Report: New TLDs Cause Confusion

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES —  As a flood of new top-level domains (TLDs) enters the marketplace, providing websites with the equivalent of vanity license plates, a new report suggests it’s all too confusing for consumers and businesses.

Today’s announcement of ICM’s official go-ahead to launch the .SEX TLD punctuates the perceptual problems that the rash of new domains is bringing to the global Internet arena, where hundreds of new TLDs, such as .bike, .club and .today — and yes, .sex — reveal the beginning of major shifts to the overall landscape of the internet.

Domain marketplace and monetization provider Sedo recently released the findings of a survey of more than 1,150 U.S., U.K., Chinese and German respondents about their perception and awareness of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs). 

Perhaps surprisingly, the survey reveals that China leads the pack when it comes to awareness of new TLDs — with Chinese companies exhibiting the most positive outlook for the adoption and success of the new domain extensions.

“Most of us use the Internet every day in both our professional and personal lives, so it’s very important to understand the impact and awareness of the significant changes that are being made to how we navigate the web,” Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz explains. “With a large portion of people still unaware that new TLDs exist, and others showing a lack of understanding of how to utilize them, it’s clear that organizations within the domain community must continue to invest in educating businesses and the general public.”

Among the Sedo survey’s most significant findings is that the majority of Americans (54 percent) were unaware of the launch of the new TLDs — showing the least favorable figure of the surveyed countries.

According to the report, U.S.-based marketers are more skeptical about the launch of new TLDs than any other survey group, with 75 percent stating that the new TLDs would make the Internet more confusing — up from 62 percent a year ago.  In the U.K., Sedo reports similar awareness of the new TLDs as in the U.S., but trending slightly higher, with 44 percent of Brits unaware of the new extensions.

The situation changes in Germany, where the survey finds that awareness of new TLDs is incredibly high, especially compared to the American market, with 71 percent of Germans being aware of the new TLDs. Add to this the 55 percent of Germans who think that introducing new TLDs is a good idea, and the future of alternate addresses looks promising for this market. With that said, Germans, especially those who run or manage small businesses, doubt the effectiveness and value of TLDs, with 38 percent saying that there is no advantage to these TLDs — the highest percentage for this question.

Where new TLDs are experiencing the most traction is in China, where the Sedo survey finds that a full 86 percent of Chinese respondents have a positive outlook on the new TLDs, with 62 percent saying that the new TLDs will make the Internet less confusing. Also of interest, 72 percent think new TLDs will have a positive impact on search results. Sedo reports that he high levels of Chinese acceptance for new TLDs may be tied to Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which allow domains in non-English languages.

“Chinese respondents were very open to the new TLDs, with most reporting that they have purchased (20 percent), considered purchasing (46 percent) or would consider purchasing a new TLD after receiving more information (25 percent),” cites the survey, adding that “Three quarters of respondents reported that their company had already discussed or planned on discussing the use of new TLDs in an advertising campaign.”

The report notes that across the board, respondents cited the ability to better describe the content of a site and branding as the main advantages of the new TLDs. Confusion and awareness were named as the top problems facing new TLDs, pointing to a need for enhanced education and promotion by domainers.

For more information on the international domain name market, visit

View Document