Did the website address you just went to really end with “.vegas” instead of “.com”?
It’s not a mistake. Companies, organizations and people are starting to forsake the familiar “.com” and “.org” Internet address suffixes, using instead hundreds of new ones like “.legal,” “.restaurant,” “.solutions,” “.movie” and “.nyc” that have been coming on the market since early 2014. Some U.S. companies have started using suffixes that previously were used in other countries or territories, such as Puerto Rico’s “.pr.” Others are catching up to a handful like “.jobs” and “.travel” that became available a decade ago.
Known to some as not-coms, the suffixes give companies a chance to get website addresses, known as domains, that include their names. Many have tried to get a “.com” domain, only to find someone else already had it. They’re also used as a marketing tool, helping an organization or business show the public what they’re about. The suffixes are eye-catching and trendy, especially with tech-savvy Internet users. Some not-com addresses redirect to addresses with suffixes like “.com” or “.co.”
“People are much more attuned to all the quirky names out there,” says Heddi Cundle, whose online travel gift card company, myTab, uses “.travel” in its domain.
Expect to see more of them after Google’s recent announcement that its new parent company, Alphabet, will have a website address of abc.xyz.
“Google’s action shifts not-coms from an interesting option to the ‘new normal,’ ” says Jeff Davidoff, chief marketing officer of Donuts Inc., a company that owns some of the new suffixes.
The suffixes have been approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the agency that oversees online addresses. Businesses, organizations and individuals can buy a domain from brokers known as domain registrars. These brokers, in turn, get the names from suffix wholesalers like Donuts, known as registries.
More than 6 million domains using the new suffixes have been registered, says Mike McLaughlin, a senior vice president at GoDaddy Inc., a company that sells domains to the public. There are an estimated 150 million “.com” domains in use.
“When somebody has a kernel of an idea, one of the very first things they do is [check on a name’s availability] to see if they can capture the essence of their idea in a name,” McLaughlin says.
While many of the companies using the new suffixes are start-ups, established companies are also adopting not-coms. And some huge companies are getting their own suffixes, including the international bank Barclays, which has “.barclays,” and delivery company FedEx, which is working on getting “.fedex.” Big corporations apply for suffixes with their own brands to be able to control how they’re used.