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Big names set to dominate new domains

Tuesday, 10 January | By Michelle Hammond

An advertising expert says small businesses need to decide whether they can justify the cost of the new domain name regime, which will open up to include company names and brands as of this week.


On Thursday, domain names will be opened up to company names and brands, which means the .com and .net suffixes – known as generic top-level domains – can be replaced.


The changes will allow companies, governments and other organisations to create internet addresses such as www.shoes.nike, www.eatvegemite and www.qantas.holiday.


However, buying a slice of the worldwide web won’t come cheaply. The application costs $US185,000 for each name and requires the help of companies such as Melbourne IT.


If more than one company applies for the same domain name, they will have to battle it out in an unlimited bidding war.


Melbourne IT has more than 100 clients seeking help to register a high-level domain name. Of those clients, 20 are from Australia.


Companies have three months to apply for a new domain name, after which they go through an eight-month evaluation. The first of the addresses should be active by early 2013.


Companies have that confirmed their intent to buy include tech giant IBM and Kraft Australia, the maker of Vegemite.


Other companies that are aware of the option, but are yet to make a decision, include David Jones, Telstra, the Australian Football League, Telstra and BHP Billiton.


Janelle Toomey, managing director of creative advertising agency SMART, says while the new internet addresses will prove to be valuable assets for companies, they come at a huge cost.


“You’d need to compare what you’d gain from it against the expense of amplifying the brand and having people understand and remember it,’ Toomey says.


Rather than registering a new domain name, businesses can create a subdomain name using the domain they already own.


A subdomain is a second website, with its own unique content, but there is no new domain name. Instead, businesses use an existing domain name and change the “www” to another name.


For example, if your business already hosts domain.com, subdomain names could include forums.domain.com and help.domain.com.