Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) have been around for some time — since 2000, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers) has successfully added such gTLDs as .info, .biz, and even .cat to the .coms, .nets, and .orgs of the world. The group anticipates that “nearly 1,300” of these could become available to the public over the next few years.
None may have the controversy surrounding them as “dotSucks”. Yep, you read that correctly: .sucks is real; and it’s coming soon. In fact, early registration (“sunrise” as it’s called) begins on March 30th.
Companies wishing to purchase a .sucks domain during this sunrise time will be forced to shell out at least $299 — unless, of course, your company is registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse. If so, dotSucks will drain your business’ wallet to the tune of $2499.
And just who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?
Not former US Senator Jay Rockefeller. According to Marketing Land, before leaving office, Senator Rockefeller told ICANN that .sucks “little or no public interest value” and was created solely for the purpose of “force large corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and even individuals, to pay ongoing fees to prevent seeing the phrase ‘sucks’ appended to their names on the Internet”.
I could not agree more.
Of course, Vox Populi Registry — the company granted the rights to dotSucks — doesn’t see .sucks in the same light. On their official .sucks website (which, humorously, has an unverifiable security certificate at the time of this post), Vox touts the consumer advocacy, customer service, and “cause marketing” (such as cancer.sucks) benefits of the new gTLD.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that, though “cause marketing” may be a secondary market for dotSucks, there is an inherent value for Vox to own .sucks simply because brands will want to prevent private entities from registering “theirbrand.sucks” domains.
So, should they?
Though SEO definitely isn’t my area of focus, I would say no; I don’t believe that brands should be generally concerned with any nefarious dotSucks affiliation.
gTLDs largely go unregistered (how many .cat’s have you seen in the last 11 years?); and if your brand is well-known, it’s likely there will be thousands of search results that would rank higher than any dotSucks site (even for “brand sucks” queries).
Also, for brands with some popularity, “them.sucks” will likely be considered “premium” by Vox. While I don’t put it past trolls to set up a website defaming their least-favorite brand, $2500 is a good amount of money to shell out for spite (especially considering someone could just register “brandsucks.com” for $2490 less).
Are brands supposed to just go ahead and shell out cash to reserve every new gTLD that gets approved? What would you recommend to your clients in this case?