Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $14 billion last month was big news, both for the grocery and technology industries. The sale had an impact on domains, too, though on a smaller scale: For far less than $14 billion, Amazon bought up several grocery-related domains. The flurry of registrations highlights a domain name strategy that is clearly working for one of the world’s most valuable companies. Amazon is a singular, but by no means unique example of a big brand using domains—and our best-in-class TLD portfolio in particular—in innovative ways.
Like many other big brands, Amazon vigorously protects their trademarks in new gTLDs. They have registered hundreds of domains in our TLD portfolio alone, with second-level domains including “Amazon,” “Prime,” “Echo,” “Alexa,” and dozens of others. These domains appear in our broad, business-relevant domain extensions like .SALE, .VIDEO, and .GIVES, as well as more product-specific verticals like .FAMILY, .SOFTWARE, and with the purchase of Whole Foods, .MARKET.
What sets Amazon apart from many brands is that they are also very aggressive in putting their vast domain portfolio to active use, often redirecting their new domains to appropriate product pages, landing pages, and other web properties. This complementary domain strategy can make it easier to use dense websites with many pages and complicated navigation trees, a description which certainly fits Amazon’s flagship web property.
Amazon.dentist, for instance, takes you to the dental supplies category landing page, while Amazon.news is the download page for news and magazine apps in Amazon’s mobile ecosystem. Non-consumer-focused domains also find a use, with Amazon.pub redirecting to the division that works directly with authors, or Amazon.lawyer, which is a job listing for Amazon’s legal department. Amazon.reviews even goes to a collection of some of the funniest customer reviews their products have earned.
Branded Short Links
Branded Short Links are another way modern brands are employing domain names. Rather than rely on generic link shortening services, businesses can use their own name to share articles, sites, and links over social media. Not only do Branded Short Links increase engagement over their generic counterparts, but they are also one more way that brands can establish themselves as trusted authorities in consumers’ minds. While many brands have embraced Branded Short Links, few have unleashed their potential to the same degree that Microsoft has. Every time that a Microsoft brand tweets using their MSFT.social Branded Short Link, they are in effect getting a free advertisement for the Microsoft brand. When that ad gets multiplied over all of their properties and followers, the effect can be massive. Msft.social garnered 505 million potential impressions in the month of February 2017 alone!
Complementary domain strategies and Branded Short Links are just a couple of ways brands are using new domains today. Of course, more traditional uses for domain names—building a brand around a new company, maximizing the benefits of SEO, and offering an easy-to-remember call to action—all apply to new gTLDs as well. Big brands can’t afford to skimp on their online experience, and the best among them are adapting, and thriving in the world of new domains.