Some of the world's biggest brands, including Intel, Nike, Target, Netflix, Lego, UPS and the NFL have been told to put their namesake dot-word domains live in the next three months or risk losing them altogether.
Domain name overseer ICANN has warned 200-plus companies in a blog post that there is a 12-month deadline from signing a contract to making sure their dot-brand is live on the internet. If they don't meet the deadline, ICANN has threatened to end the agreement.
When it was announced several years ago that ICANN was opening up the internet to any dot-word, hundreds of global brands paid the $185,000 application fee to protect their name online.
Many of those companies have been dragging their feet over running their own piece of the internet, however, because they're not sure what, if anything, they want to do with it.
Having pressured them into signing a contract to run their top-level domain last year, ICANN is now threatening to kill the contract if they don’t get it up and running.
Owning and running a piece of the internet is not an insignificant task. Even if a company does the absolute minimum required, it still needs to set up a DNS server infrastructure and a registry operation so domains can be created and allocated.
In reality, most companies will simply outsource those services to registry companies but that still comes at a significant initial cost as well as ongoing annual fees both to registry operators and to ICANN. Many have decided to simply do nothing.
Despite some determined and creative efforts by the domain name industry to encourage companies to embrace their dot-brands, there have still been no breakout uses of a corporate-branded top-level domain several years after they were introduced.
Although most companies are expected to heed the warning and eat the cost of making their dot-brand live, several have already decided to simply dump their name.
Most recently, Emerson informed ICANN it was walking away from .emerson. As did cement machinery company FLSmidth, and South Korean conglomerate Doosan. In expectation of more companies walking away, ICANN has created a special webpage to document such terminations.
Dozens of companies ditched their dot-words before they entered into contract negotiations and several hundred took ICANN up on the offer of a full refund when its registration system collapsed back in 2012.
As to actual uses of dot-brands, there are several albeit limited examples that are repeatedly referenced. Google's recent decision to put its registrar business at domains.google has caused the unusual situation of market competitors taking out ads to highlight the address in the hope of building greater awareness and credibility around new dot-words.
Other examples include:
- Life to the fullest. abbott reflecting an ad campaign from drug company Abbott.
- Home.Barclays: a general information page about the bank.
- nic.fox: a well-designed site that promises greater things from the TV and movie studio later this year.
But also just as many dot-brand domains have been set up as a test for a specific event and then taken down, two examples being:
- AssistMoneyPenny.Sony: set up to accompany the new Bond film.
- AnnualReport.AXA: as it suggests, set up to hold the annual report from AXA but since taken down.
Companies that will have to decide whether to use or lose their dot-brands between now and August include: Aetna, AllState, BestBuy, Comcast, DHL, Dunlop, Dupont, Ericsson, HBO, HGTV, Intel, Lego, Mattel, Netflix, NFL, Nike, Pfizer, Prudential, QVC, Target, TJMaxx, UPS, Volvo, Zappos, Zippo and others. ®