NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has launched a consulting group to advise clients on the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) system.
The group has been set up to help companies that have, and have not, applied for domains to navigate challenges arising from the new system, said US public affairs practice chair Nate Tibbits, who is leading the group.
It consists of fewer than 10 staffers across the WPP agency's public affairs, digital, and corporate practices. Burson has not made any external hires to the group, which has been in development for about two months and has already signed some existing Burson clients, though Tibbits declined to specify which ones.
“This is an opportunity for us to help companies think about how they can use the domains and leverage them in a strategic way,” Tibbits added.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced Wednesday the list of companies and organizations that applied for new domain names.
Under the gTLD system, a company could expand its Web address suffix beyond existing extensions such as .com, .edu, and .biz to a near-infinite range of possibilities. Google, for example, has applied for domain names including .google, .youtube, and .lol.
ICANN hired Burson in fall 2011 for its worldwide education campaign, and ended work with the agency in February 2012. The campaign helped ICANN increase the number of new domain applicants beyond its goal, according to Tibbits.
Over 1,400 companies applied to ICANN for more than 2,000 domain names, Tibbits said. Applications were 150 pages long and cost $185,000. An anonymous panel of judges will review the applications over the course of several months, and the public has 60 days to comment on the list now it is released.
Each domain will cost $25,000 per year for a decade. Domain names can be in any language and up to 64 characters long.
Critics of ICANN have expressed a number of concerns about the new system, including its expense, the possibility of security breaches, and greater confusion for consumers. “Companies need to begin the conversation about how they intend to handle this,” Tibbits said.
The group's work will extend beyond the application review process, he added. The new domains are expected to come into effect in 2013.