Over 500 top level domains (gTLDs) soon will be available for purchase. Normally, this would not be news, but these top level domains will be available with .sucks as the suffix. For the pharmaceutical and health and wellness industry, this obviously can be quite the concern. But with any problem, opportunity also arises.
What You Need to Do Now:
On March 30th early registration period opened, while general availability occurs on June 1st. CMI recommends brands act quickly, purchasing the domains for your brand, their generic name and your corporate company name.
Work with your IT department or agency partners to ensure you are involved in the early registration process. This will help ensure you can obtain URLs related to your products or services.
Should you fail to purchase the domains before another party, work alongside your legal team and leverage brand trademarks to unseat domain name squatters.
Why It’s Important to Act Now:
Conversations about brands and health in general happen all over the Internet. From social networks to forums and blogs, reputation management is something every brand marketer in the pharmaceutical industry should be concerned with.
By purchasing the .sucks domains, you have the ability to control what, if anything, is shown when a user types in the URL. Though these domains come with a price tag that is higher than the average .com or .co, the cost is significantly less than what it would take to deal with negative content showing up on a brand.sucks domain for a pharmaceutical company.
One thing brands should NOT do is to purchase the brand.sucks domain and have it redirect to the brand.com. Enlist your PR agency for a better use. The bravest and most customer-centric brands may want to direct visitors to a form that would allow customers to vent their negative feedback, with a promise that a company representative would be back in touch to address their concerns.
In addition to purchasing the domains, we recommend initiating a listening/monitoring campaign as part of your continual analytics. The advent of .sucks gives another venue for customers to vent about brands. While a significant amount of this venting may not be productive, it’s good for any brand to be aware of what is being said and to analyze what to take seriously – and change business practices around – and what to discard.
Opportunity for DSA Campaigns:
While the reaction from most has been negative toward .sucks domains, for the pharmaceutical industry, it can also present an opportunity. With many pharmaceutical companies leveraging DSA (disease state awareness) campaigns to generate awareness of the disease states their drugs treat, .sucks domains can be utilized in a similar fashion. Domains such as Crohns.sucks, ALS.sucks or Diabetes.sucks could be very powerful, brandable URLs for DSA campaigns.
As of now, no other planned releases of negative gTLDs are known by the public.
For more information or counsel, please reach out to your CMI/Compas contact.