I just returned from DomainFest, a first-class event put on by Oversee.Net each year in Los Angeles that focuses on Internet addressing.
The hot topic for discussion this year was the new, generic top level domains (TLD), as they are known -- up to 3,000 of them -- which are set to be reveled this spring and released in the next year, generic TLD's like .law, .shop. .nyc, as well as proprietary ones like .ibm, .att., and others, so long as the applicant holds the trademark.
Domains tie into toll-free numbers by way of Magnetic Branding -- matching vanity toll-free numbers with Internet domains. Some well-known examples include 1-800-Progressive with Progressive.com, 1-800-Verizon with Verizon.com, 1-800-Priceline with Priceline.com, and even 1-800-Got-Junk with GotJunk.com. A great brand should be like Rome, only all roads lead to you!
What matters most is what endures in the minds of consumers. We all know that 800 numbers are considered the standard and everything else -- while functionally equivalent -- is considered second best. It's typical to hear someone say "My 800 numbers is 877-NXX-XXXX," using "800" as the generic name for toll-free.
The same is true for Internet domains. When someone asks, "Did you get THE DOMAIN?," they mean the .com domain of the the product or company name. "The domain" will always refer the the .com version regardless of how many TLD's are made available, just like the common reframe, "My 800 number is...." has endure despite having four other options.
Where other TLD's have been rolled out over months, if not years, these new TLD's will be released en masse. Releasing thousand of domains head to head will be a grand experiment in commerce.
Movie producers worry about blockbuster status when just a few other movies debut at this same time, so just imagine the affects of having thousands released at once. How does any one of them get noticed? Obscurity and consumer confusion is guaranteed and, given the massive investment to authorize each new domain-- $180,000 just for the application -- many may fail from lack of adoption.
So how does one stand out in this brave new world?
Smart maketers will go with what's well understood by the masses. Magnetic Brands like 1-800-Progressive and Progressive.com need no further explanation; They include an 800 number and a .com address.
That's what consumers know -- toll-free 800 numbers and .com Internet addresses-- and there is not a domain thing anyone can do to change that.