The arrival of the new gTLD .Bank has created quite a fuss in the banking industry, with thousands of financial institutions applying for this new industry-related extension.

First-up was Barclays, who announced last May they were  dumping the traditional location-specific .com and web addresses and transfering their online assets to proprietary domain names: .barclays and .barclaycard. And now we learn than more than 500 European banks and financial institutions – including Santander, Spain’s BBVA, or Rothschild – have registered to apply for the new, restricted domain name .BANK.

There’s no doubt that new extensions like .bank or .brand provide new opportunities – and new challenges – for online activities in the financial services sector but, why are the big financial institution taking such a positive approach to their new gTLDs? The main motivation behind it is digital security. Financial institutions are increasingly apprehensive of the potentiality of online scammers to use their domain names to attract and deceive unsuspecting web users, and these new gTLDs have become a great way to ensure their digital assets.

Why .Bank is the real game-changer?

The goal of the .bank domain extension is to provide a new way for financial companies to better identify their websites with their clients and boost consumer confidence. In order to achieve this, this new industry-related gTLD is only available for verified banks, credit unions, and other qualifying financial institutions. What is more, the .bank domain will be managed by a financial industry advocacy group, ensuring that all websites ending with .bank are owned by real banks conducting real business with consumers around the world.

At a consumer level, this is great news. It will create a simplified online user experience, helping the customers to identify immediately a genuine business. Also, it will make it more difficult for criminals to create bogus emails from a .bank address or mirror websites, which will reduce phishing cases and will help the genuine banks protect users private data and confidential financial information. This will, ultimately, give individuals an unprecedented level of confidence in digital banking.

It could be a long process

The transition from one domain to another, including the transfer of all the online infrastructure, is not easy and/or fast, so we may need to be patient. But, while these changes may be slow to come, the number of applications for .bank domains does indicate that banks are moving in the right direction, demonstrating their awareness of the essential need for protecting their digital assets if they are to protect their customers. And until that time comes, it is highly recommended that businesses operating in the financial industry, and who wish to protect their digital assets, reputation and customers, should invest in trademark monitoring to avoid losses from opportunistic scammers.

Since the new generic top level domains (gTLDs) started being released last year, there has been an inevitable question in many brand managers and marketeers heads: will they have an impact upon Search?

It is not crazy to think that if you own a web address that best describes your business or brand it should have a positive impact upon search. At the end of the day, these new gTLDs are often exact matches to keywords. However, when asked, Google’s staff was categorical in their answer: new gTLDs won’t be a ranking factor. When choosing which sites to display higher it will continue to be about the site content relevance, independent of the domain name.

But, a year after these new top level domains arrived, we now have the empirical evidence needed to confirm that Google’s prediction was incorrect. After tracking and studying for 16 months the Search Engine Marketing effects that the New gTLD domain name extensions are having on the industry, GlobeRunner found compelling evidence that new domain names are converting at a much higher rate than the traditional ones.

The American consultancy created two Google ads, which were exactly the same except for the display URL. In their case study they compared the display URLs vs. The first results of the research, published almost a year and a half ago, showed that domains of new extensions were converting at about 34 percent, and .COMs were converting at about 52 percent. However, nowadays the panorama is very different (and favorable for the new gTLDs): new domain extensions are converting at more or less the same rate but, .COM domains are converting now at a record low, of nearly 20 percent.

Previous to this study, SEO experts all over the world had been tracking the new domains behaviour on Search, and most of them concluded that these new extensions did have some degree of impact upon search engine rankings. However the results gathered by those were not as conclusive as what GlobeRunner is presenting now. So yes, we can now loudly say that there is a positive SEO effect. Even if some time ago EMD (Exact Match Domains) stopped being part of Google’s ranking algorithm, the search engine mission is to show relevant results to your search and, it seems that domain names with descriptive words (both before and after the dot) are a great indicator of the relevance of the result.
However, we can not forget that, at the end of the day, what matters most when ranking well in Google is the quality of your site. Even if the SEO aspect of the new gTLDs is a great aspect to bear in mind when purchasing a domain with one of the new extensions and optimising one’s brand’s domain portfolio, it is not the only thing one should take into consideration. Domain names are essential digital assets in today’s digitised world. They have to be considered worth protecting as an integral part of a business brand protection strategy. Reinforcing your brand’s digital footprint will ultimately strengthen your brand’s digital presence.

Despite their slow start, the new legal gTLDs, .’legal’ and .’law’, are full of opportunities

The new gTLDs focus in the legal field started some months ago, full of expectations and promised opportunities for law professionals. Domains like .law, .legal, .lawyer or .attorney were created in order to provide relevant, credible, and targeted TLDs for law firms, attorneys and other related business. However, they appear to have gotten off to a slow start, at least in the opinion of World Trademark Review.

According to a recent research carried out by this news platform, law firms are taking a “tentative approach” to their new gTLD digital space. For their analysis, focused on the “54 law firms that are agents of the Trademark Clearinghouse, acting on the assumption that they are acutely aware of the ongoing gTLD rollout”. They wanted to know the percentage of them that had registered their domain, or a similar one, containing their brand name with any of the newest extensions .LEGAL (that operates as an open LDT) and .LAW. (only licensed lawyers can register).

Surprisingly, only a quarter of the sample studied registered the equivalent of their key domain name in either of the strings. To put this into numbers: a mere 28% of the law firms studied had registered a dot law domain name, while only 24% of them chose the dot legal extension. On the other hand, only 11% of those firms registered both strings.

Why is this surprising?

First of all because of the low number of registrations. .’legal’, that is owned by Donuts, went into general availability in March 2015 and so far has 6,500 registrations. On the other hand, .Law, which is owned by Minds + Machines, went into general availability on the 12th of October and has at this time only over 3,000 registrations. The other two bigger gTLDs, .’lawyer’ and .’attorney’, add up together to a total of 24,500 registrations. Even if the number per se doesn’t look bad for domains that have gone on sale quite recently, we have to consider that there are more than 1.2 million attorneys in the US alone.

Considering that .LEGAL is an open LDT, one would think that law firms would have chosen to secure their name to avoid it being purchased by third parties. If you have a law firm with an established brand, or if you are an attorney with an established name, you need to protect your assets and registering your firm’s name with one of these extensions is a very good investment which should be taken in order to protect yourself and your name.

However, we still think that the .Law registrations, even if there are a little more expensive than .Legal ones, are quite low. As we have seen .Law (and .lawyer and .attorney as well) requires a validation of legal credentials. This will not only create a sense of trust in your online visitors but the other idea behind it is to give a the search engines an additional trust factor (even though it is still very early to look for evidence of this).

In conclusion, what should a law firm or attorney pursue when registering its domain with one of this new gTLDs? First of all security, to protect your digital assets from cybersquatters, but also to build trust with potential customers.  Most of these new suffixes are a great way to signal to clients and colleagues the presence of a serious legal professional behind it.

New gTLD: .SEX

There’s a new gTLD in town, and get ready because it is a big one. Since last week, it is possible to register .SEX domains at registrars. With this new addition, ICM Registry, who operates already the same theme domains .XXX, .ADULT and .PORN, takes control of a new and lucrative TLD.

With over 300 million searches for sex-related topics a month (this is, approximately, the 30% of the total internet traffic), sex has become the most searched topic of the web and adult-only websites one of the biggest revenue generators. That’s not really a surprise, if we consider that most of internet user are adults and a high proportion of them consume, at some point, adult material. Given this, there’s no doubt that the demand for more virtual space for the adult industry will keep growing. The creation of this new top level domain .SEX, arrives in order to fulfil this insatiable demand.

However, it is expected that not only pornography and adult related sites will get use of this domain name. Also health and safety related websites and educational sites can benefit from it. Sites promoting safe sex or websites about sexual education can find in dot sex an effective way of reaching new audiences while facilitating the identification of these informational sites for users.

But… what does .SEX mean for the big brands out there?

Basically, loads of headaches. .SEX is a very appealing domain for those engage in Cybersquatting. So in order to protect their brand and avoid the misuse of the brand name by third parties, this companies need to be fast. And not only companies need to be careful with this, also individuals can also be considered as a ‘brand’. Let’s think about Taylor Swift, who not so long ago purchased and in order to protect her name and brand. A good Digital Brand Protection strategy is essential nowadays.

So, with over 4.000 dot sex domains presold, we have to wonder, how many of them were actually bought by non erotic related big companies.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
For more information email: brand

Brand hi-jacking appears to be on the rise in the US political sphere of late. Over the past year, many political candidates have used domain names as ammunition in their PR campaigns. Carly Fiorina’s (former CEO of HP) recent campaign in the US presidency race was thwarted by failing to register relevant domain names for her presidential campaign. The result? Another party purchased and registered the domain name to deliberately post disparaging comments about her past history, in particular her role in laying off approximately 30,000 Hewlitt Packard employees.

In the most recent of attacks on personal brands, US legislator for the state of Louisiana Steve Carter, has been the most recent victim. Following a failure to renew the domain before it’s expiration date, Carter’s opponent , Robert Cipriano purchased the domain and subsequently transferred the rights to an un-named party.

As it stands right now, online visitors to the website might be a little shocked by the content currently posted which essentially criticises every policy, action and legislative decision made by Carter during his time in office. The wholly unflattering content accuses him of increasing taxes, reckless spending of public finances and playing a major part in the demise of Louisiana’s state school system. In essence, the website represent an unwavering attack on Carter’s personal ‘brand’. The cases of Carly Fiorina and Steve Carter are not unique. Increasingly digital assets (domain names, social media profiles, etc…) are being harnessed as tools to damage and defame the digital presence of political opponents. Indeed, Donald Trump registered three thousand new domains this week alone, adding to his mammoth existing portfolio.

What can brand’s at large learn from these digital oversights?

Both cases listed above further reinforce the significance of domain names as valuable and powerful digital real estate in today’s online world. Brands, whether of a business or personal nature, are increasingly becoming more aware of the far reaching potentiality of digital assets like domain names and indeed intangible assets like online reputation.Such assets hold immense positive or negative potential depending on how they are used. Preparing your digital brand protection strategy has never been more important.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
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The .WINE gTLD has been given the go ahead from ICANN after many months of debate. Although we are still waiting for the official registry operator to be announced, the news is being met with both positive and negative sentiment from the online community.

On the one hand, many wine producers, wholesalers, businesses and connoisseurs are excited by this new development. A .wine extension will allow for wine aficionado’s to carve out a defined namespace on the internet to build and grow online communities and followers with similar interests and passions. Indeed for both established brands and scaling SME’s in the wine industry, the .wine (and indeed .vin) gTLD will help in promoting their products, services and online communities in the digital landscape.

Many wine based brands endorse this new domain extension anticipating that it will further cement trust between online consumers and distributers/wholesalers and further increase competition between online businesses. For online consumers and wine connoisseurs, the TLD will allow quick access to wine related info, experienced bloggers and trusted distributers.

On the other hand, the decision to release the gTLD didn’t come without some form of protest. Ministerial representatives from both the French, Australian and US governments were overtly against the release of the domain extension. They feared that releasing this particular gTLD for public registration may put trade agreements regarding the sale of region specific products at risk. GI (geographic indication) products describe specific products from specific areas of the world. For instance, ‘champagne’ is only officially made in Champagne, France. Many established successful brands with official GI status feared that the new gTLD’s may cause consumer confusion. This, they anticipate, will affect their online sales, consumer relationships and ultimately their bottom line.

Regardless of the apprehension voiced by Australia, France and the US, ICANN have endorsed the release of .WINE and .VIN. Time will only tell whether it was a good move or not!

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
For more information email: brand

Choosing and registering a domain name is an essential part of designing your website as it is the stepping point from which you create your brand. In regard to choosing a memorable and catchy domain name, choosing an effective keyword is crucial as keyword optimisation effects your brand’s online presence. It is critical that you choose a striking domain name that’s both related to your brand and likely to be ranked in the first page of search engine results.

Over the last two years, ICANN have been slowly releasing new domain extensions into the DNS (Domain Name System) to allow greater flexibility in choosing domain names. The new suffixes bring a wealth of opportunities for brand owners and brand managers alike. Below we have listed a few ways in which new gTLD’s can be harnessed and help build your online brand presence.

Foreign language Domains (IDN’s)

If your business is scaling into the global marketplace and entering into new markets, a non latin character script can be used in the targeted market. These domain names offer a great opportunity to reach new consumers using native script. For instance, Chinese or arabic users no longer need to switch from changing their keyboard functions. Registering new non-Latin gTLD script will greatly increase your global reach and online presence.

Geographical domains

The newest trends in marketing today involve localisation. Increasingly, search engines like Google are giving greater weight to to geographical closeness to the user and give greater preference to search results based on geographical nearness. Adopting new ccTLD’s (country code top level domains) into your domain portfolio will assist in SEO. New ccTLD’s now available include .PARIS , .London , .Tokyo. These ccTLD’s will greatly enhance your SEO ranking and also your international web presence.

Customer Care Capability

Smart brands are harnessing the potentiality of new gTLD’s and integrating it with their customer care practice. New gTLD extensions allow a targeted approach to create online communities based on similar or shared interests. for example . Pizza , .Wine , .Vin , .Irish , .Swiss were created to further assist in target customer segment.

Enhanced security for brands and consumers.

Many new gTLD’s have been released that will lend greater security on the web for consumers and protect against the selling of counterfeit goods and products. For instance, .Pharmacy is a particular new gTLD that only accredited, legitimate pharmacist with proven credentials can register. This process of proving your legitimacy will bring about safer ways for consumers to shop online and indeed protect online pharmaceutical brands in the digital space.

Building brand value and protecting brand equity

Protecting your trademark is essential to the success of your brand. Furthermore, protecting your brand equity is key to protecting your brand in the digital space. Brand owners and brand managers need to think long-term when it comes to brand positioning. For example, as part of business development strategy brand managers should consider new markets that they may want to enter into in the future. It is important to have this in mind when optimising your domain portfolio, new gTLD, ccTLD’s and IDN’s all have to considered in a holistic approach to protecting your digital assets.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
For more information email: brand

The web has become a notorious channel for fraudsters to sell counterfeit and often dangerous drugs to unsuspecting consumers. Over the past number of years, newspaper headlines had been dominated with genuinely frightening tales of the dangers of purchasing unregulated drugs online. Many consumers are often attracted by cheap, inexpensive deals advertised for such products. But at what cost?

Following on from the precedent set in the US by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NAPB), The European Commission recently proposed a new policy to further strengthen the regulation of online sales of pharmaceutical products. To effectively police the sale of online drugs, they issued a directive stating that a universally accredited hallmark must be clearly visible on all online drug sites. The hallmark itself allows consumers to identify whether the site is certified and legitimate. Only authorised online pharmacies who have proven lawful licenses will be granted this essential ‘seal of approval’.

The European Commission’s decision comes a few months after a similar initiative was promoted by the National Association of Pharmacists of the USA. The association submitted an application on ‘behalf of international pharmacy coalitions and national pharmacy associations to ensure that the .PHARMACY gTLD shall serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive namespace for legitimate Internet pharmacies’.

Investigations by the association uncovered some startling statistics. After analysing numerous websites selling pharmaceutical products since 2008, they found that more than 96% of the 11,000 sites assessed were non-compliant with United State’s federal law for the sale of drugs. At present, 62% of these sites did not present an official mailing address. In addition, 91% of the sites did not appear to be linked to online networks authorised to sell drugs on the web.

It goes without saying that rogue websites selling unregulated drugs online present great dangers to the health of consumers on a global level. Thankfully, the proposal presented by the European Commission marks a progressive step forward in consumer protection.

This directive will also be of enormous benefit to pharmaceutical distributors in terms of protecting their brand equity, online reputation and digital assets. The decision of the European Commission is ultimately a victory for legitimate online drugs stores in protecting their brand. Ridding the web of rogue sites selling counterfeit drugs ensures that consumers can purchase safe products from genuine and lawful distributors. Trust between consumers and digital brands will be further cemented.

dotNice – Experts in Digital Brand Protection
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There has been steady progress in the ongoing release of new gTLD’s. With ICANN’s shakeup of the digital landscape, the era of dot com dominance is possibly coming to a close. Optimising your domain portfolio will ultimately benefit your business. By protecting your brand, you can grow your business.

We’ve outlined below the newly available gTLD’s available for public registration for since June and July. Keep an eye out also for the upcoming new gTLD’s in August.

August 2015


July 2015:


June 2015:


To view more New gTLD’s available for registration, click here !

Afnic, technical partner for the new Internet domains .paris and .bzh, makes an initial assessment after the general openings that took place on Dec. 2014.
The .paris project began in 2008 and was approved by ICANN in 2013. After its opening to the first 100 ambassadors on June 4, 2014 and a registration period reserved for rights-holders from September 9 to November 11, 2014, the .paris TLD has now entered a new phase.
On December 2, 2014, .paris domain names became available to the general public. 12,000 domain names using the new digital address for the French capital have already been reserved, including almost 6,000 on the first day of the launch.
Two days later, on December 4, 2014, the .bzh TLD also became available to the general public. For all Breton-born individuals and Brittany enthusiasts, the opening of this new Internet domain culminates a project that was initiated ten years ago. Gathering all the players since 2004 and backing by the Brittany Regional Council, the Association, supporting the .bzh project, obtained ICANN approval to create this new digital identity in 2013.
One week after the opening, almost 3,000 .bzh domain names have been registered by businesses, associations, local authorities and individuals, which contribute together to the construction of a new digital territory, spreading the image of Brittany to the world.

The growth in these figures confirms the enthusiasm of French users for new Internet domains (gTLD) that bring new, targeted places for expressing community membership, and fostering digital solidarity.
In addition to the .paris and .bzh TLDs, for five years Afnic has supported the deployment of 15 other new registries for new Internet extensions, including the .alsace, .corsica, .ovh, .sncf and .leclerc namespaces.
The non-profit organization, registry of .fr, also manages the overseas ccTLDs .re(Reunion Island), .pm (St. Pierre and Miquelon), .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), .wf (Wallis and Futuna) and .yt (Mayotte). The 23 ccTLDs represent a portfolio of more than 2.8 million domain names.
The next general openings are to take place in 2015, beginning with the .alsace TLD in January.