Are Custom TLDs Going to Take Off?

Around three years ago, there was a lot of excitement on the internet when it came to custom top level domains, better known as TLDs. These would allow major companies to move away from .com or .ie domains and set up a type of domain that was exclusive to them. There was also an expectation among some observers that category websites, such as online casinos, travel websites and similar enterprises, would move to specific domains for their category.

Now that we’re two years into custom TLDs, it seems like the right moment to stop and take stock of what’s happening. It’s certainly true that the picture is a little more mixed than some pundits were predicting back when they launched.

A few sites have chosen to use category specific domains such as .casino. Generally, this was for a few self-explanatory words that quickly came and went when the custom TLDs were first announced. Beyond that, most purchases have been by companies who are merely seeking to protect the brand name and reputation that they have spent many years trying to build up. There is indeed no sign that companies are choosing to launch their websites on category specific domains when the .com or .ie version of their domain is also available. Custom TLDs are remaining the second choice for most operators. The majority of websites will only choose to use them when they are forced to do so through lack of other domains being available. In some ways, this is a sign that these TLDs are actually fulfilling their purpose and bringing choice to a market, where the vast majority of short and obvious domain name registrations had already been taken. As availability continues to be squeezed, there is a chance that more businesses will choose custom TLDs in the future.