New Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD)

Background: In June, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), approved the creation of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for brands and organizations. Previously, gTLDs that were available included .com, .org, .info and .net among others, but not brand or company names. Applications will be accepted between January 12 – April 12, 2012, so this fall companies are weighing the pros and cons.

Industry Implications: These updates are most relevant to pharma marketers as a corporate branding opportunity, versus something more brand-focused. It will likely also have important search implications in that queries associated with the brand will return www.____.PharmaCoName more often.

There is also opportunity with gTLDs for brands fighting counterfeiting issues, an issue most relevant to consumer decision-driven categories such as ED, OAB and depression.

Recommendation: This is a complex decision that comes down to potential. On one hand, the rate of $185,000 is high, and only a limited number of new domains will become available over the next few years. Mashable makes an interesting point that what are our current gTLD’s were once very pricey and that’s dropped significantly over decades. We don’t suspect it will take that long this time around, which means our clients could wait (see point #9).

However, if the cost is insignificant compared to a company’s overall marketing budget, it’s a smart – and lifetime – investment. It also assures avoidance of potentially expensive litigation on the rare possibility that someone squats on their name.

We plan to look more into the opportunities owning a gTLD could offer, since it affords the right to license or not license sub-domains to other entities. For example, would it be feasible if Medscape hosts all of PharmaCoName’s paid microsites at www.medscape.pharmaconame instead of .com? If so, what are the promotional opportunities as a result?

Another potential opportunity would be for drugs with multiple indications. For example, for a drug we’ll call Shaiama that treats depression and arthritis, the brand could have subdomains depression.shaiama and arthritis.shaiama.