A look at whether Mass. insurance agencies should file to protect its domain name assets
Allstate, Amica Progressive, State Farm, The Hartford and Traveler along with Amazon, Apple, Google and a number of other major corporations have all bought into the internet’s new real estate boom. Soon instead of a “.com” at the end of a domain name, you will more than likely see the endings of “.Apple, .Gucci, .AAA, .AARP, and .Boston instead. Of more interest to Mass. insurance agents and their agencies, however, is the prospect that .Agency will also be one of the options in after the dot on domain names now available. And later this year, .Insurance will also make its appearance.
.Agency is only one of over 1500 new domain suffixes coming to the internet
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the non-profit organization that manages the internet’s domain name system. It is currently accepting applications for general Top Level Domains (gTLDs) for whatever string anyone with a business plan and an $185,000 application fee proposed. If approved, an applicant then owns the Top Level Domain which it can use like a private .com. So far, ICANN has received over 1900 proposed gTLDs from all over the world in various languages.
While Google alone applied for 101 gTLDs and Amazon 76, a commercial venture set up just to acquire gTLDs called Donuts, LLC, raised $100 million in financing to apply for over 300 gTLDs. In return, ICANN has already awarded Donuts over 105 separate gTLDs such as .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles, and .venture. It has also acquired the .Agency domain suffix.
.Agency opens for business on the internet.
On February 18th, .Agency went live for trademark holders, under the mandated Sunrise period. This Sunrise period gives companies with registered trademarks the exclusive right to acquire their trademark as the prefix to the .Agency domain, so that the final .Agency domain name appears as “[Trademark].Agency”.
.Agency went live February 18th for trademark holders, under the mandated Sunrise period.
The Sunrise period for the .Agency domain suffix expires on April 22, 2014. On April 23rd .Agency becomes generally available with an initial caveat. Donuts has for its gTLDs, including .Agency, an “Early Access Program” that takes place the first few days of general availability. Some would say the Early Access Program moniker is Donuts’ euphemism for charging whatever the traffic will bear.
On one of Donuts’ registrars lists, the Early Access pricing for .AGENCY domains appears as follows:
|Day 1||23 Apr 2014||$ 12999.00|
|Day 2||24 Apr 2014||$ 2999.00|
|Day 3||25 Apr 2014||$ 1299.00|
|Day 4||26 Apr 2014||$ 699.00|
|Day 5||27 Apr 2014||$ 199.00|
|Day 6||28 Apr 2014||$ 199.00|
|Day 7||29 Apr 2014||$ 199.00|
On April 30th, the .Agency domains will cost a mere $35.00 for a year’s registration.
Will .Agency and the other new gTLDs break .coms domination of the internet?
Currently, ninety-five million domain names end in “.com”. Internet insurance agencies that owned insurance.com and carinsurance.com have sold their domain name assets for $33 million and $46 million, respectively. In addition, a number of .com domain names have sold for seven figures.
The launch of 1500 or more new gTLDs has the potential to cause a dilution in pricing for .com names. Studies by Microsoft indicates that consumers prefer domain names that match their search terms. The new gTLD will offer more opportunities for easier access to the information that consumers seek. Whether consumers will embrace these new search opportunities, however, is the multi-billion dollar question. There are experts who predict the new gTLDs will revolutionize how consumers use the internet. Other experts argue that other Top Level Domains that ICANN has introduced such as .biz, .info, and even .xxx did not affect the value or cachet of .com domain names.
Should insurance agencies and insurance companies file for .Agency domain name?
Many insurance agencies with awkward or non-descriptive domain names may wish to consider adding additional .Agency domain names or, when available, .Insurance domain names to their website internet addresses. Assuming the agency is not fishing for one of the desirable commercial names like “Insurance.Agency” or similar high-priced domain assets, the price should become more reasonable after April 29th. Moreover, such a purchase may offer cheap insurance to protect an agency’s trade names.
Insurance companies would seemingly be wise to add their trademarked name or trade name to .Agency. These companies may not wish to see something synonymous with the generic name of their agency plant hijacked. Mutual insurance companies, for example, may be surprised to learn that Northwestern Mutual presently is contracting with ICANN for the exclusive use of the gTLD “.Mutual”. Apparently, Northwestern Mutual’s application for this gTLD passed muster simply because no one objected.
The .Agency gTLD could be popular since the generic description applies not just to insurance agencies, but to real estate agencies, ad agencies, employment agencies, and any number of other business entities that perform similar intermediary services.
With the following example, one can better see how the new gTLDs might work. For example, .Clothing is now a live gTLD offered by Donuts. A company, Black Swan Clothing has the .com domain name Blackswanclothing.com. That company now use BlackSwan.Clothing for their domain name along with their original .com domain name. If you type “blackswan.clothing in the browser’s URL section, you are brought to the company’s site straightaway.