Article

Battles Loom Ahead for Automotive Domain Names

December 2012, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by George Nenni - Also by this author

 


Did you think the dust had settled on website domain names? Sure, there were cyberspace-grabs from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, but much of that seems to be over. Every once in a while, we hear of a new dot-something extension being added, but nothing earth-shattering. Well, the rules of the domain name game have changed.

Whether your dealership has one or multiple websites, you currently have one of 22 Top-Level Domains (TLDs). I’m referring to the .com, .net, .cc and so on. This past June, the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began allowing a large number of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and offered the applications for them. If a company was awarded one or more of these gTLDs, that company could begin to sell website URLs with the related extensions. For instance, General Motors Co. could secure .chevy and create websites with this extension.

However, applying for these new gTLDs was very expensive, with an up-front application fee of $185,000. If you were lucky enough to be chosen, there was an additional annual fee of $25,000. There was also a limit of one company per unique gTLD.

On June 13, 2012, ICANN made the list of gTLDs public on newgtlds.icann.org. I downloaded this list and began to analyze it. It was extremely interesting to review. Bids were made for some potentially great domains. I thought that .app, .inc, .law, and .web were all possible winners. Walmart went for .george. (Of course, I sent them a note asking for early registration of nenni.george?very cool.)

As expected, some of the heavy hitters in digital marketing applied for quite a few domains. Among the leading applicants, of course, were Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. (9 percent of applications), but another new startup called Donuts Inc. has also emerged. Donuts, well-funded by $100 million in venture capital, came out of nowhere to bid for some lucrative gTLDs with a staggering 16 percent of all 1,931 applications.

Through this analysis, I pulled out all of the automotive-related gTLDs (listed below), which accounted for 3.5 percent of the overall list. In the automotive industry, there was plenty of activity, but companies seldom went for large purchases. The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), naturally, bought their brands, presumably to begin requiring dealers to move to OEM-approved websites with the custom extension. OEMs will look back on this and see it was a very smart strategic move, especially with names like Audi, Ford and BMW that create a three- or four-character extension while still securing the brand. The most surprising realization in reviewing this data was the few automotive OEMs that did not secure their top-level domain—Acura, Mazda Motor Corp., Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce Motors, Scion and Subaru all failed to be a part of this potentially lucrative domain grab.

Time will tell how important this becomes, but as I looked at the number of major global players that took part in this, it appears well positioned to become very big business in the future.

Domain                        Applicant 
aaa................................American Automobile Association Inc. 
audi...............................Audi AG 
auto...............................Big Maple LLC 
auto...............................Dot Auto LLC 
auto...............................Fegistry LLC 
auto..............................Uniregistry Corp. 
autoinsurance...........Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co. 
autos...........................DERAutos LLC 
bentley........................Bentley Motors Ltd. 
bmw............................Bayerische Motoren Werke AG 
bosch..........................Robert Bosch GmbH 
bridgestone...............Bridgestone Corp. 
bugatti.........................Bugatti International SA 
buick...........................General Motors LLC 
cadillac.......................General Motors LLC 
car...............................Charleston Road Registry Inc. 
cars.............................DERCars LLC 
cars.............................Koko Castle LLC 
cars.............................Uniregistry Corp. 
chevrolet....................General Motors LLC 
chevy..........................General Motors LLC 
chrysler......................Chrysler Group LLC
datsun........................Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. 
deal............................Amazon EU S.a r.L. 
deal............................Uniregistry Corp. 
dealer........................Dealer Dot Com Inc. 
deals.........................DotDeals Inc. 
deals.........................Sand Sunset LLC 
deals.........................Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. 
dodge.......................Chrysler Group LLC
dunlop......................The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. 
ferrari........................Fiat SpA 
fiat.............................Fiat SpA 
firestone..................Bridgestone Corp. 
ford...........................Ford Motor Co. 
gmc..........................General Motors LLC 
goodyear.................The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. 
honda.......................Honda Motor Co. Ltd. 
hyundai....................Hyundai Motor Co. 
infiniti.......................Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. 
jaguar......................Jaguar Cars Ltd. 
jeep.........................Chrysler Group LLC 
kia............................Kia Motors Corp.
lamborghini...........Automobili Lamborghini SpA
landrover................Land Rover 
lexus.......................Toyota Motor Corp. 
lincoln.....................Ford Motor Co. 
maserati................Fiat SpA 
mini........................Bayerische Motoren Werke AG 
mitsubishi.............Mitsubishi Corp. 
mopar....................Chrysler Group LLC 
nissan....................Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
racing.....................Black Orchard LLC 
racing.....................Premier Registry Ltd. 
racing.....................Uniregistry Corp. 
ram........................Chrysler Group LLC 
smart.....................Smart Communications Inc.
suzuki....................Suzuki Motor Corp. 
tata.........................Tata Sons Ltd. 
tatamotors............Tata Motors Ltd.
tires........................Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC 
tires........................Dog Edge LLC 
tires........................The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. 
toyota.....................Toytota Motor Corp.
volkswagen..........Volkswagen Group of America Inc. 
volvo......................Volvo Holding Sverige Aktiebolag 
yokohama............GMO Registry Inc.

Vol. 9, Issue 10

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