Details on branded generic top-level domain applications are thin on the ground, but Ingrid Baele, vice president at Philips intellectual property & standards, gave TB&I a preview of the .philips domain.
Why did you apply for the .philips gTLD?
We applied because our own generic top-level domain (gTLD) offers multiple business opportunities and security advantages. Our three main reasons are:
- To create a genuine environment that we can manage ourselves;
- To create new business opportunities via our online presence; and
- To avoid the risk that others might apply for, and obtain, our name.
What do you mean by a ‘genuine environment’?
As the registry operator, we can control who registers a second-level domain. We have formulated our strategy in such a way that we can open the registry in the future, but we will certainly start off with a closed registry. The openness means that when we are working with partners, for example, they could have a domain. But not everyone will be able to have a domain.
When people see a .philips domain, they know that it is ours, and not a fake. We can control domain name registrations, image and communications. We have a very broad strategy, but in the first instance we will use it for the Philips company and its subsidiaries only.
What are the new business opportunities?
We, as the IP organisation, work closely with the businesses and brand, digital and communications teams in Philips. We see a lot of opportunities with this new gTLD. It is difficult to say what they are at this point in time but we will have workshops next year with the businesses in Philips to bring the business opportunities to the surface.
“NEW DOMAINS SHOULD HAVE DEDICATED CONTENT BECAUSE OTHERWISE THEY WILL NOT WORK. WE NEED TO WORK OUT HOW WE GET A RETURN ON OUR INVESTMENT IN OTHER DOMAINS.”
The brand will be very visible after the dot and that can attract the attention of customers. Philips has recently re-launched its brand: the new tagline is ‘innovation and you’ and we have integrated brand, digital and communications. We can use a billboard to drive people from the street to our website. A fancy .philips domain is more likely to attract people than a regular philips.com.
It is important that we now have our own gTLD and are defining our strategy ahead of the race, rather than being too late to the party. We are an innovative company, and I think we should be a part of this as well.
Was .philips your only gTLD application?
We also have .philips in Chinese script. China is our second biggest market. The benefits of having this are similar to the Latin script gTLD, but there might be the need for a local, relevant approach in China. The website would be in Chinese. We currently have different home sites (more than 50) in different languages, with the same look and feel but always addressing the local markets.
When do you plan to launch .philips?
We do not know yet. Our priority is to determine our registration policy for third-party domains. We will establish this during the workshops.
Will you set up different sub-domains for your different products/departments?
We do not intend to set up sub-domains, but that will be discussed during the workshop as well.
How will .philips co-exist with your current domain name portfolio?
The current domain name portfolio is being reviewed and a new domain name policy is being defined (as we usually do, based on traffic and relevance of the domains). We expect that the domain name portfolio will gradually change in composition.
We might also register in other people’s domains in the coming year. With the high number of open domains, we want to have a strategy upfront, to make the grey area between what we do and don’t want as small as possible. There are a lot of generic names that are relevant, but that comes with a price. One thing that does not make sense is linking all the new domain names to the company (Philips) website. New domains should have dedicated content because otherwise they will not work. We need to work out how we get a return on our investment in other domains.
Will .philips ever replace philips.com?
That’s a very difficult question, but I expect that they will live next to each other for the coming years at least. It will be determined by how our consumers react, how the new gTLDs are positioned in the domain name world and how consumers in general react. It may do, but it is difficult to say.
How will you market/advertise your new gTLD?
That is not clear yet, as we are still focusing on third-party domains. We will discuss this further with the businesses using the new gTLDs and with communications. We are thinking about at least a limited number of catchy gTLDs to draw attention to the new wave in the domain name area. We can’t think about the marketing without having the final picture of how we are going to use it.
Do you think some consumers might be confused by .philips?
I do not see why. On the contrary: clear communication will play an important role. It will also depend on how .brand owners and other domain owners are going to use it and how quickly it will get momentum in the world.
Do you think shareholders fully understand the benefits of a gTLD?
I do not know, but if not, we will have to clearly explain the benefits.
Are you concerned about how Google treats the new gTLDs? Have you got an effective strategy for dealing with search engine optimisation?
Google is one of the major applicants of new gTLDs, and that means it will guarantee that the new gTLDs are properly handled by its search engine. Google has not yet disclosed how it will adapt its search engines, but the major signal I see is that because Google has applied for so many gTLDs, it is almost impossible that it will not adapt its search engine to the gTLDs.
This article was first published on 19 December 2013 in World IP Review
Philips, gTLDs, domain names, brands