Defining moments for three new dotBrands occurred recently. One dotBrand publicly announced a migration away from.COM, another ceased to exist, and a third registered 95 domains before the general registration period opened thereby exercising an option to register promotional domains. On March 2nd 2016 the Swedish global engineering Group, Sandvik AB said that it would begin updating its web presence by moving from SANDVIK.COM to HOME.SANDVIK. The .DOOSAN TLD —previously operated by a South Korean industrial conglomerate, Doosan Corporation —became the only dotBrand to date to be retired. Lastly, .SEAT, a TLD operated by SEAT, S.A. (a Spanish car company), ramped up its domain registration activity prior to the official launch by deploying the bulk of the promotional domain names. I’m looking forward to more momentous 2016 dotBrand activity before the end of the year.
Let’s look at each of these and the domain registration implications in more detail.
Sandvik AB operates three dotBrands: WALTER, SANDVIKCOROMANT, and SANDIK. While the three dotBrands officially launched June 2015, there hadn’t been much activity in any of them. There were only 6 domain registrations in .SANDVIK and two registrations each in SANDVIKCOROMANT, and SANDIK by the end of February. On March 2nd, 2016 the company posted on Facebook:
“Sandvik has started moving parts of its web presence to its own top-level domain, .sandvik, and is one of the first companies in the world to do so. The first website to move to the new domain is the global Group site sandvik.com, which can now be found at home.sandvik.”
A press release on HOME.SANDVIK states: “You could say that we have purchased part of the Internet to protect our web presence, both from a brand perspective and in terms of providing added trust for our website visitors.”
Doosan submitted a notice of termination to ICANN in September 2015, but it did not elaborate on the reason why they decided to terminate their TLD. The NIC.DOOSAN domain was the only one registered. On November 30th, 2015, ICANN determined that the string wouldn’t transition to a new Registry Operator and instead would be retired. However, it was a slow death, as some industry insiders claimed the TLD was being used to test the ICANN Emergency Back-End Registry Operators process meant to mitigate the risk associated with failing TLDs. IANA shows .DOOSAN TLD with a retired status and it was removed from the root zone on February 24, 2016.
In more uplifting news, .SEAT had a significant increase in domain registrations from a single domain registered in December 2015 to the 95 registrations shown in the Feb. 29, 2016 zone file. As opposed to most other dotBrands that have launched so far, SEAT took advantage of the option to register up to 100 promotional domains to itself before the launch. Other observations include:
- The TLD was delegated to the Root Zone in April 2015 and launched on March 1, 2016.
- The .SEAT domains mostly resolve to content served up by the framing of existing .ES or .COM web pages, and users continue to see the browser’s address or URL bar. Once a link on the .SEAT domain landing page is selected, it directs to an existing page on a different TLD; e.g. selecting the ‘Company’ link from the ELECTROSANZ.SEAT domain redirects to a SEAT.COM page. Note: In terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), displaying content by ‘framing’ or ‘linking’ to another site is often ignored by search engines if the configuration isn’t done correctly.
- A search for ‘SEAT Spain car’ doesn’t return any .SEAT domains in the top 100 Google search results, but the company’s SEAT.COM domain is the first result. Another search on ‘SEAT Ibiza car’ doesn’t return any .SEAT domains in the top 100 results either.
- The required NIC.SEAT page redirects to SEAT.COM, but I wasn’t able to easily find the ICANN- required elements of the NIC page; i.e., Registration Policy, DNSSEC Policy, Abuse Contact, etc.
- The WHOIS.NIC.SEAT page is not resolving --according to several web browsers, the page appears to be attempting to use a SSL Certificate that was created for a different domain.
One other interesting piece of information that I learned about SEAT is that it stands for Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo and was founded in 1950 by a Spanish state-owned industrial holding company. SEAT is currently a Volkswagen subsidiary; and they have recently launched a diesel car, the Ibiza 5DR, with a fuel efficiency of 76.3 mpg.
One dotBrand is down, but with signs of life shown by TLDs like .SEAT and .SANDVIK, I’m hopeful that 2016 will continue to be successful for the dotBrand space. Let the good times roll!