Which is better? Your 3rd choice .COM or your first choice .ANYTHING?

I plan on doing a more in-depth article about this topic on Medium but I thought I’d poll my blog readers first and see what the general consensus is. The question I’m asking is one that more and more startups and small businesses will be asking themselves over the next 3-5 years.

For the greater part of a decade the answer was always, go .COM or go home. Then TLDs like .CO and .ME showed the world that wildly successful companies can start and grow their business raising tens of millions of dollars on non-.COMS. Companies like Brit.co and About.me are great examples of the power a non .COM brand can have.

All that being said, people are used to .COM (in the US, in Spain people are used to .ES, in Germany they’re used to .DE) and old habits die hard. Here’s the million dollar question – as a startup that wants to call themselves something like “Drive” and they don’t have the budget for Drive.com, do they brand themselves as something like GetDrive.com or DriveApp.com or pick their first choice name and go with something like Drive.co or Drive.me?

What would you do? Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Rich February 18, 2014, 9:52 am

    Hello Morgan
    Are you talking about ccTLDs or gTLDs?
    1st choice i would take a .com
    2nd. choice i would take .co or .me if the site it’s developed for US traffic/use
    3.rd i would take the .whatever

    I did a little whois research and i see people spending $200-$5000 on new G’s. and they are not domainers.
    One of the problem with new G’s they are not known to the public were .co and .me are.
    I called eastern europe to a friend (not a domainer ) and ask him if he ever heard of .co and he said yes,so awareness it’s a key factor.

  • Mike February 18, 2014, 10:00 am

    The best is one-letter dot-com. Extremely rare. Second choice is two-letter dot-com. Very rare. Then three-letter dot-com (good value), then one-word keyword dot-com, then two-word keyword dot-com, then… dot-com… then… dot-com… then … and then non-dot-com names at the end of the list. Period.

  • Aaron Strong February 18, 2014, 10:06 am

    Assuming “DRIVE” is in the technology sector, it would look more innovative with something like Drive.Technology over the .co or .me….. Assuming “DRIVE” is a clothing company, it would be better to have Drive.Clothing over the .co and .me……These new extensions are here and they are changing marketing departments around the globe.

  • Nick February 18, 2014, 10:18 am

    @Rich: I like .ME and .IO I am not found of .CO because 7 out of 10 folks I say “go to something or another .co” always come back with “.co or .com”? 9 out of 10 that I will email a domain name .co will tell me they cant get to that “domain name . com” because they add the “m”.

  • @Domains February 18, 2014, 10:33 am

    What if your #1 choice in .com and new gtld is already taken?

    That is the problem that is already starting to occur, and will continue. Top keywords in .co and .me extensions are mostly taken, and in .com and .net are all taken. Top keywords that match new gtlds (eg: color.photography, NewYork.singles) are also taken quickly and either used or put up for sale in the aftermarket. Any business will only have one or a few new gtlds that match what they do (a photography company likely won’t use a .singles gtld, for example).

    That is the problem many will face into the future, the .com, .net and country code of their keyword is taken, and the new gtld that best matches their business already has the keyword taken. What will they do in that case, if they don’t want to go into the aftermarket? Will they create a two or three word .com, or a two or three keyword new gtld?

    Some of these new gtlds are fairly long words compared to what people are used to for a domain extension. Will businesses start registering two and three word new gtld’s when they can’t get what they prefer? The length of these domains could become an issue, and add to that the confusion in these first few years as the public gets used to the new gtlds. Longer .com domains already get typo’d, how often will a long new gtld domain get typo’d?

    I’d imagine that all the best words that match ‘guru’ are 99% taken for .guru. Which means the next person coming along will have to register a two or three keyword .guru, or will they? What will they choose to do then?

  • Joe February 18, 2014, 10:46 am

    The gtld’s are a terrible idea, Morgan. There is no need for them and they serve no purpose other than providing additional inventory for registrars to promote and to fill ICANN’s coffers. I’d rather have my 100th .com choice than to utilize a .whatever and I suspect most end users will firmly agree.

    The G’s offer nothing to the end-user and are potentially dangerous for those who use it for several reasons:

    1. The registries can, and I think will, all go under.

    2. They are at least 250% the price of an available .com, both upfront and annually. If anything, they make .net look like a good deal. Wow – $799/year for .Luxury? C’mon! By starting out with such outrageously priced losers, the entire program will be put in jeopardy.

    3. They are all anticipated to heavily leak visitors to the .com – just like we already see with .net, .org and each of the others.

    4. They are all anticipated to heavily leak email (yep, even confidential ones!) to the .com – just like we already see with .net, .org and each of the others.

    5. ICANN foolishly allowed both singular and plurals of the same gtld which will cause mass confusion and still more leakage. (See #3 and #4 above)

    6. Only a very few names make any real sense and serve a useful purpose.

    7. Names that actually make sense will be held back and auctioned off for big bucks by many of the registries. Of course, that makes no sense cuz this was supposed to be all about availability, right?

    8. The big bang was a big thud. Does your mother know they have just been introduced? No, mine doesn’t either.

    9. The public is brainwashed and will continue to type in .com

    10. Companies are not interested in utilizing the gtlds and are already heavily invested in their .com. Every single one of the Fortune 500 has a .com and I don’t see that changing in our lifetime, if ever.

    11. There is no more vacant land for sale for $10 in Manhattan, Miami Beach or in zip code 90210 either. Sorry. Deal with it. Look, I’d rather get a $25 gtld than pay thousands for a good .com, but at the same time, I’d like to buy a seaside mansion for under $50 too. Gtld proponents need to get over their socialistic tendencies and a grip on reality.

    12. Some domainers are giving the gtld’s a viability of 1 year. Personally, I think that is way too generous.

    13. The tld alternative experiment has already been tried by ICANN and is generally considered to be an overall failure involving .aero, .travel, .museum, .jobs, .mobi, .name, .tel, .pro, .cat, .biz, .xxx, and .asia. What part of the failure lesson did gtld backers miss? The exact same thing is about to take, this time with more names.

    14. The naming dilemma/experiment to which you referred has been repeated by corporations and was generally considered to be a failure, for example, O.Co’s disastrous aborted attempt to shorten its name using a cctld for Columbia. They have already concluded that a 10th choice .com is superior to a .anythingelse

    15. A similar experiment has been tried by New.Net and was generally considered to be a failure ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New.net ). End users who relied on the New.Net extensions got burned in the process when their extension was ultimately discontinued.

    16. With 1900+ tlds each competing on its own, no one is actually spending money to educate the public on the overall availability of new, right of the dot names. ICANN now has $400M, but it is reserved for legal (they will need it!) and not earmarked for any advertising or public awareness. As a result, each of the new tlds will need to fend for itself. As such, each will die the minute it tries. The dollars that will be required to overcome the .com tsunami in 2014 are, at this point, insurmountable. No one registry will be able to overcome this obstacle and still have any money left over to operate.

    17. Gtld registries will learn what it means to piss into the wind when they try to convince the public that Joes.Books is not the same as JoesBooks.Com. They will hope that little Joe will do the educating, but that just won’t happen. Instead, Joe will go out of business. If Joe is smart, he will instead buy a longer, but easily recognizable .com

    18. If your sponsoring registry goes under, your website may go with it. It is bad enough worrying about the laws of a particular country when dealing with cctld’s. Customers of each of the following have found themselves in a precarious position:

    – Zaire’s (“ZR”) renaming to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“CD”).
    – The breakup of the Soviet Union resulting in the code “SU” being replaced with codes for the independent states, such as “RU”, “BY”, and “UA”.
    – East Timor’s code changing from “TP” to “TL”.
    – Czechoslovakia’s (“CS”) division into the Czech Republic (“CZ”) and Slovakia (“SK”).
    – The remaining components of Yugoslavia (“YU”) becoming Serbia and Montenegro (“CS”). Following a referendum, in September 2006 Serbia and Montenegro further split into two independent identities Serbia (“RS”) and Montenegro (“ME”).

    19. Have we not learned anything from such cctld fiascos? Also, don’t forget what happened to our friends at bit.ly who utilized the cctld for Libya. When the Arab country blocked its internet access in February of 2011, they found themselves in an ugly situation.

    At least cctld’s are backed by foreign governments, each with their own sovereign borders and many with their own currency. With gtld’s, ya got nothing other than the possibly-empty promises of a bunch of jelly donut guys and some dude in the Cayman Islands who may or may not be around in a few weeks. I have no idea as to their finances and it sounds like they are all financially sound, but it seems very reasonable to be concerned about this at this point.

    20. The new extensions are, for the most part, too long. One letter was not permitted. Two letters are reserved for country codes. Three letters are cool, four letters may be ok, but 5+ letters, fuggetaboutit. Many are 10+ letters! And then there is .photography with a mind-numbing eleven. No thank you.

    21. Many of the gtld’s do not represent a line of commerce. This will ultimately prove devastating to not only that particular extension, but also to the program as a whole as they start to drop like flies.

    22. I think that Rod Beckstrom and his ICANN friends foolishly opened a Pandora’s Box that should never have been opened. The only way to get this ill-conceived genie back in its bottle will be to wait for it to die a painful death and then sweep up its cremated ashes.

    For the above and many many many more reasons, this gtld story will surely end like the others before it, in dismal failure.

    For these reasons and lots more, I think it is far better to have your third, fourth or even tenth .com choice rather than your first .whatever.

  • Rich February 18, 2014, 10:55 am

    If they are all taken then they should buy some .com’s for $2,000 and be done with it.
    If they can cot afford that then they should not start a business.

  • Nick February 18, 2014, 12:15 pm

    @Rich: Why $2,000? Why not $20,000 ? 😉

  • SerryJW February 18, 2014, 12:27 pm

    Let’s make the assumption the domain is DRIVE. Google gave preference to DOT com for years. People where familiar with it as the king of extensions built trust and credibility in the website. That being said, times are changing but it will take the public years to understand all the choices.

    The extension needs to make sense. I love driveme.drive, I love drive.XXX it you want to do a sexually explicit website, I love drive.tech if you want to develop a website on driveless cars. drive.baby makes no sense. Small businesses use social media to brand themselves. Make it easy to remember regardless of which way you go. If given the choice, I’d use and extension with no more than .LLLL . Longer extensions will not be as user friendly. WHAT is Google going to do on their drop down window. There maybe 10-20 domains with different extensions regged, will they offer ( wrong) suggestions?

    Before you decide you should do investigation ( as much as possible) on who owns the other extensions AND are they using it in the same niche as you. I know DOT co is doing well. I personally would never reg it. 5 years from now, people will still type DOT com…you will always have leakage on your marketing. Domainers are myopic, they believe what they believe even if the general public doesn’t agree…ASK Overstock!

  • Michael February 18, 2014, 1:15 pm

    I think their is so many great .com domains to register or buy I wouldn’t go for a new extension even if it sounded good to me.

    .com is still cool to me!

  • Rich February 18, 2014, 1:35 pm

    You can buy a decent .com for $2,000 if all the options are gone.
    If there is a budget for $20k even better.

  • Lonny February 18, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Agree – if you can’t afford the one time fee of $2K-$20K for a good .com aquisition, then you really shouldn’t be starting up a new business. And if money is really tight, you can make payment arrangements with the .com Seller to spread the payments out over several years. Think about it. This amount is typically less money than a landlord would want as a deposit, less than an 1/8 page ad in the smalltown phonebook, less than a bus bench ad on a quiet street, less than a one month radio campaign, less than a one week tv campaign and about the same as a small neighborhood mailing.

    Much better bang for the buck and when it’s time to retire, you will find yourself with a precious commodity, a .com domain name. Your heirs and business successors will thank you. When the .whatever guy goes to retire, he will probably find himself with a worthless name and an annual renewal liability. His heirs will think he was a cheap ass and will probably wish he had stepped up to the plate and shelled out the bucks back in 2014 when a .com was actually affordable.

  • albert February 20, 2014, 9:02 am

    Took your test Morgan.
    I simply typed in about 10 different insuracnce .coms and out of the 10, two were available.
    Now, I knew that cheapautoinsurance.com was not avialble, but I typed it in anyway (that was one of my 10).
    The two that were available are good for my area.
    A couple of thers I am sure that I can pick up for a few thousand dollars.
    The bottom line is there are plenty of .coms available, maybe not for hand registration, but not for outrageous prices either.
    And I only own less then 300 hundred .com domains.
    They are mostly geared to my niche industry, so I don’t have that kind of byass.
    Love the blog and keep up the good work.

  • Nick February 21, 2014, 4:02 am

    @SerryJW: wouldnt you want driverless.tech for driverless cars, not drive.tech? Personally I would not want either because the average public (the majority) are going to go to driverless.tech.com

  • SerryJW February 21, 2014, 10:14 am

    @Nick…I probably agree with you considering the price of the gtlds…THIS is going to be the biggest obstacle to their success.

  • Tristan February 24, 2014, 2:28 pm

    Spend the money you would waste on the new gTLDs on a decent .com. Personally I always look for brandable .coms so I got the social media accounts as well.

  • SerryJW February 24, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Tristan…HOW do you lock up the branded domain on all the social media sites? HOW do you transfer it to the domain buyer?


  • Joe February 24, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Well great question, Morgan

    First I will not be writing on Joe, February 18, 2014 at 10:46 am, a very interesting comment …………. 22 answers I know something but not like this person, Thanks.

    I think that everything be very swollen and everything is about to explode for those who do not know, maybe many of you with more years in this market and know him more and industry best.

    Make an attempt to write to this comment makes days ago but have to let go for calling for evening dining, all be hot as the issue presented here is foolhardy to do this to be an ordeal for domainers, companies registers ICANN accredited, individual investing company to the investment company, for domain parking, for auction, for which abundant buy domain names and in less than a week to be sold, the broker, the marketplaces …. .. is endless, all questions that do not unanimous response by either party.

    The best question is what’s behind all this, someone have this answer, someone think it’s all a ploy to get money from under the boards that now and in the west last time saved.

    What is the answer to your question @ Morgan that everything is not really make us see something qeu the end will be a brick facade with all new extensions recorded to the memory of a time that could not be done because it can be really with all my feeling towards them as the cemetery full of white crosses all fallen unnamed.

    They rest in peace and let us rest in peace ourselves, this is not a business that is an aberration in the history of the market and industry, worldwide.


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