Domain names have been rapidly changing lately with a huge range of new top level domains released. These new domains make it possible to register a domain name ending in .guru, .club or even .sexy (and hundreds of other options). These changes are also not limited to english with it now possible to register a domain name in another language and have it end in .公司 (.company), .在线 (.online) or many other non-latin scripts.
The biggest development in New Zealand domains however is not the new TLDs, it is the release of the .nz top level domain extension which allows you to register yourname.nz instead of requiring an additional second level extension such as .co.nz or .org.nz. This move by the Domain Name Commission has been met with excitement, frustration and a large number of businesses that aren’t even aware of the change. So what do you need to know?
The date for the launch of the new .nz domain names is rapidly approaching and from 1pm on the 30th of September the rush will start to secure a name. There are four types of domain name statuses that you will need to know to ensure you protect your current domain names or to get in early and register desired names.
- Available – This status means that from 1pm, 30th September the domain will be available for registration on a first come first served basis. Many registrars like Domains4Less are offering pre-registration on this type of domain – finding which registrar will get your registration request through fastest will be key to securing the most popular domains.
- Conflicted – This status is the most controversial status and essentially means that the domain name in question is registered in two second level domains (ie. name.co.nz and name.net.nz) and thus has two potential owners who have the rights to the name. Whilst common logic would be that either the highest value domain (.co.nz) or first to register should get first access to the new name.nz domain this is not the case. These domains will require submissions from each party and the Domain Name Commission will either make a decision on who to award the name to (based on trademarks and other factors) or they will set up a facilitation service so the two parties can negotiate. Overseas this has led to one party paying large amounts to the other to not register a certain name. If no agreement can be reached on the conflicted name it will become unavailable for registration.
- PRR (Preferential Registration or Reservation) – This status means that there is only one holder of a second level domain and thus they get preferential right to register the .nz version of their domain name. The existing holder will have between 1pm. 30th September 2014 and 1pm, 30th March 2015 to register their domain name, at which point it will become available to the general public. The only catch is you need to have registered the existing name by 9am on 30 May 2012 when the new domains were announced. If you registered after this date you will have to be first in first served when ‘Available’ domains are released.
- Prohibited – There will be some .nz domains not able to be registered at the second level by anyone. For example com.nz cannot be registered as it would lead to confusion.
You can look up the status of any domain name here so be sure you know which of your domains or target domains fall into each category. The decision you then need to make is what you are going to do. If you are a business it makes sense to reserve yourbrand.nz to protect your brand. If you are a domain name investor it is a harder decision – do you double your holding costs by owning both the .co.nz and .nz extension for each name you own? I think you should tread lightly as with the majority of New Zealand businesses owning a .co.nz domain name it will likely remain the dominant and most trusted extension for years to come.
If you want to research the effects that the new domain extension launch will have you can look at what has happened in the UK which recently opened .uk to a lot of opposition. They have now passed the 100,000 registrations mark so interesting insights can be drawn from how they have been adopted there which may apply in New Zealand.
If you’re not sold on registering a .nz domain name or having your business end in .sexy there is also a last option for you – a brand new domain extension – .kiwi. The .kiwi domain name was released to the general public on 17 March this year and can be registered at all the major domain registrars. I haven’t seen it widely adopted as yet but its a catchy extension and for the right brand could work.
There are now hundreds of options available for your website name and whilst the domain name you use won’t have a measurable effect on your ROI it is worth time researching and investing money into it as it will help with building your brand and ensuring customers remember you.