By Daniel Hunter

NetNames has released new research demonstrating that the majority of UK businesses are failing to prepare for the changing nature of the internet and the introduction of generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). The survey polled 100 business directors in UK enterprises (minimum turnover of £5 million) and explored their views on the value of online assets.

In its research, NetNames found 99 per cent of respondents feel domain names are important to their brand’s internet presence, reflecting the significance of maintaining a company’s visibility on the web.

A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of the Internet. It is visible to Internet users as the suffix at the end of a domain name, such as com, info, net, and org domains.

However, despite domain names being rated as one of the most valuable online assets owned by a brand, the research reveals that most businesses are still unprepared for the introduction of gTLDs which signify the biggest change to the internet addressing system since its inception. One in three organisations admits to not knowing what a gTLD is, and 62 per cent of businesses have no plans to apply for a new domain name ending.

With the number of internet suffixes, such as .com, .net and .org, set to dramatically increase over the next 12 months, the survey demonstrates the need for executives to rethink domain name management before the introduction of gTLDs later this year.

When questioned about the potential benefits that new domain name extensions offer, 37 per cent of executives think gTLDs will provide a stronger online presence, 36 per cent believe they will increase revenue opportunities and 28 per cent think gTLDs will lead to greater engagement with customers. Even so, just four per cent of businesses have applied for a gTLD and only six per cent are planning to.

“The online world is about to undergo a major transformation. Once new domain endings come into effect, it will take one organisation - with a strong digital strategy and enough consumer sway - to take the lead in demonstrating the value of gTLDs and educating consumers. As a result, organisations need to develop an online policy that ensures businesses can take advantage of the opportunities that the web offers," Simon Jackson says.

“To truly benefit from the introduction of new domains, businesses need to identify the extensions that will have the greatest impact on their online footprint and be most relevant to their customer-base on a global basis. By purchasing those web addresses that provide business value and streamline domain name portfolios, savvy brands will use the introduction of gTLDs to strengthen their internet presence. However, early-preparation is key and those businesses that act early will be ahead of the game and in a much better position to defend their online brand in a competitive web environment.”

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