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Afilias Research Finds Consumers Unaware of Coming gTLDs. So What?

Afilias has released the results of research into consumer attitudes towards the coming new gTLDs that will begin launching later this year. The research finds that only one in five consumers in the US and the UK were aware of them. But the response should be so what? How can consumers be expected to know about them?To date there are no websites, there is no advertising and there is next to nothing being done to promote the gTLDs. In 12 months time, undoubtedly awareness will rise. But then the question can be asked again and we can see if awareness has risen.The research also revealed that 73 percent of UK adults would prefer to visit traditional Web addresses like “adidas.com/shop” rather than “shop.adidas.” In the US, 61 percent of adults would prefer to use a “heritage” gTLD.But again, the research is presenting a foreign concept to consumers. In time people will get use to them. The research is like asking consumers 15 years go if they would like to purchase something online or from a physical shop. Back them many would not have even known one could shop online. Now many people don’t even want to shop in a physical shop.What the research does show though is those gTLDs wanting engage with consumers will have to educate them.”The advent of new TLDs coming over the months ahead will result in major changes to the Internet. Some of the world’s best-known companies will roll out a dot Brand extension, but our research shows consumers are unaware that these changes are coming and would avoid the new gTLDs due to their unfamiliarity,” said Roland LaPlante, CMO, Afilias. “However, the new gTLDs offer consumers great benefits, such as reducing the risk of purchasing counterfeit goods online. Our research demonstrates that businesses need to seriously consider the ways that they will integrate the new gTLDs into their online strategies and how they will educate consumers about their benefits.”The survey also found that UK and US consumers have trepidation concerning Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), domains that use non-Roman characters (as in Russian, Chinese and Devanagari.) Only eight percent of UK and US consumers recognized IDNs as domains designed for foreign-language communities while 65 percent of UK consumers and 60 percent of US respondents said they would navigate away from IDNs. This figure reaches more than 70 percent for “over 55s” in both markets.LaPlante added, “Education is also needed to ensure the growth and support of IDNs. Consumers should understand that if a domain name isn’t written in a script they recognize, it doesn’t mean the site is dangerous. In reality, websites using IDNs will create an improved, more relevant Web experience for consumers around the world.”The Afilias “dot Brand or dot What?” report is available for downloading from the Afilias website here [pdf].