Back in the 1980s, when the internet was still in its infancy, you had to be very far-sighted indeed to see its true potential. Knowing this background, the following anecdote from Denmark is even more astonishing: the Scandinavian network service provider, NORDUnet, registered the very first domain name on January 1, 1985: nordu.net.
What about the fact that the internet as we know it did not yet exist, and would not exist until Tim Berners-Lee created the worldwide web in August 1991? Even so, NORDUnet took exactly the right approach to what is now a major issue in domain-centric advertising: it successfully built a bridge between its brand name and its domain name. Anyone hearing the company name can easily guess the business’ web address, while anyone who points their browser to nordu.net will get NORDUnet.
Today, the internet is a big part of billions of people’s lives as the world’s leading communications medium. In comparison to the number of internet users today (which reached the four billion mark for the first time in 2018), the approximately 16 million people who were online in 1995 seems quite marginal. This makes it even more important to stand out from the other 333 million registered domains that now exist, and to outdo your competition in the fight for the attention and loyalty of potential customers. One thing that helps in that fight is intelligent, intuitive marketing of your domain by using domain-centric advertising.
Category-killer domains to boost marketing efforts
The obvious approach: use so-called category-killer domains for a specific marketing campaign. Examples of this include:
These domains are generally short, catchy, and accessible. At a glance, they convey what potential website visitors can expect to find there: namely books, jobs, gold, or paint.
If, for instance, you run an online marketplace for cars and promote your business with a commercial, cars.com will be much more memorable, and have a greater impact for interested parties than smithcartrading.com, for example. If you have a category killer domain such as these, a domain-centric marketing concept is the obvious choice.
One of the few exceptions: you don’t sell your goods or services directly via your online presence and exclusively deal with resellers instead. If, for instance, you’d like to tell end customers about your newly launched ready meal for supermarkets, it naturally makes more sense to feature the product and its brand name more prominently in your advertising message.
Domain names vs. brand names for advertising
At a time of constantly increasing domain registrations, it is very difficult to acquire one of these catchy killer domains: unless you have a marketing concept and a budget that allows you to spend a large amount to acquire a previously assigned domain. The alternatives would be:
- To consider using a generic top-level domain such as .shop or .store, if your own domain is not sufficiently compelling.
- Focus your brand communications on a domain name that contains the brand, and advertise extensively around the domain name.
This latter option is the approach taken since 2001 by Best Buy, the electronics and appliance store: instead of closing its commercials with “Best Buy” and referring customers to its stores, the company always incorporates its bestbuy.com domain into its message.
As such, Best Buy strongly focuses audience’s attention towards its website and leads customers to where they can spend their money fastest: the Best Buy online store. This is a classic example of domain-centric advertising, which can be supported by social media campaigns and discount offers in the online store.
Start-up opportunity: Integrating domains via your marketing approach
When your company is still in its growth phase, you can take advantage of a number of varying opportunities: aligning your business name, domain name, and marketing from the outset. Imagine, for example, that you have just launched a fashion label or a clothing store. How about using the same name for both your company and domain? Since the launch of the .fashion top-level domain in 2015, this has been a realistic option.
You could, for instance, register the edgy.fashion domain name and simply do business as edgy.fashion from that point on. An appropriately styled logo for your flyers or online advertising would simultaneously embody your company name and domain for a truly domain-centric approach.
Thanks to the wide range of both new and old top-level domains, opportunities have arisen for startups to align their brand name with their primary domain. This means that their own website or online store automatcially becomes the focal point of their domain-centric advertising.
Where domain-centric advertising is possible
How and where you promote your domain is entirely up to you and your budget. Google MyBusiness, listings on sector-specific sites and catalogs are generally free of charge. Domain-centric online advertising via Google AdWords or on Facebook are another option with extensive reach and a high degree of relevance to the target audience. Short online ads featured on YouTube videos or TV commercials with a focus on the domain are also available. In the case of traditional TV and radio commercials, every second counts: the shorter the domain name, the cheaper the ad – which is why the askjeeves.com search engine no longer uses the lengthier version of its domain name and now instead uses ask.com.