March will be a pivotal month for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as companies mark their calendars with a number of key dates and deadlines surrounding its new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program. However, market research conducted by domain name marketplace operator Sedo suggests that a surprising proportion of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are still unaware of such developments.
Among the more than 600 SMB managers and owners surveyed, only 37 percent were aware that new gTLDs will be released beginning in 2013. Approximately the same margin did not see, or were unsure of, any business advantages associated with the emerging protocol, while just 6 percent were currently planning to purchase a new gTLD as of January.
"We need to tell the public what new gTLDs are and highlight how they will ultimately benefit both consumers and businesses alike by providing more options for registering web addresses and for branding opportunities," Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz explained. "If the public doesn't understand why this is happening then there will be little chance for success."
The growing knowledge gap was made particularly clear when SMB owners were asked to rank the new domain name suffixes in order of trademarking value. For instance, the ".app" gTLD which respondents were least interested in has actually received more applications than any other option to date in the ICANN framework.