Confused Survey Finds Consumers Confused About New gTLDs

In a survey to gauge the British public’s knowledge of ICANN’s proposal to introduce new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), The Future Laboratory on behalf of domain name registrar, found consumers and businesses are not enthusiastic about the prospect while the survey also demonstrating its own confusion on what is happening, apparently not reading ICANN’s Draft Applicant Guidebook very closely.With the likely introduction of new gTLDs less than a year away, the survey found the majority of consumers polled (60%) agreed that the liberalisation of domain name extensions will change the way they use the internet, but not for the better, the report found. The sceptical amongst them believe that the internet will become full of pointless domain names (for 65% of the people polled), messy and confusing (57%), too complex to navigate (46%) and out of control (41%).I find it difficult to see how consumers will find the way they use the internet changed from the introduction of new gTLDs. There are already over 200 country code Top Level Domains with the majority of them active and 21 gTLDs.And those conducting the survey seem about as confused as the people they are questioning raising. Clearly in breach of any of the conditions outlined in the Draft Applicant Guidebook, the survey raises a scenario of what would happen if a company registered its competitor’s gTLD. This clearly cannot happen.So one must question the claims raised in the survey.Other findings were that from a business perspective, two-thirds of businesses were unaware new gTLDs were being introduced. This may or may not necessarily be a bad thing. Larger businesses are the only ones likely to be interested in having their own gTLD, largely due to the costs involved. So while it is better to have as many people as possible aware of the changes, I do not consider it terribly important for now. And given that half of the 100 businesses interviewed were from small-to-medium enterprises, they are highly unlikely to be applying for their own gTLD.Of those aware of the new proposal, they see an obvious branding opportunity. Of those businesses surveyed, 81 per cent stated that liberalisation will be innovative, three quarters stating it will be advantageous, and two thirds exciting when launching a campaign online.One prospect that does interest consumers according to the survey, is the opportunity that new suffixes present for building communities online. Of the consumers surveyed, 29% think the internet will become localised, allowing cities and towns to create virtual spaces that promote the local area and that connect communities. Again, the proposed cost of establishing a gTLD will prohibit many individual communities.But larger cities have already established an interest in having their own gTLDs with proposals already coming from groups in Berlin (.berlin), Paris (.paris), New York City (.nyc), Scotland (.sco) and Wales (.cym).While Gandi describes the report as making “the case for and trend towards a liberalised internet,” it is really a pointless survey that has got Gandi some good publicity in the mainstream press.

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