Should you be buying up new controversial web domains in order to protect your brand?

As interest and use of the internet grows exponentially year on year, more websites are needed to meet the growing demand from users. Businesses, celebrities and individuals are all buying up new domain names in a bid to own a corner of the virtual world.

Increasingly, there is demand for diversification around the types of website address, or domain names that are on offer.

Controversial new domains

In late 2013, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the largest shake-up of the domain name system for 25 years, which will eventually lead to more than 1,400 new domain names being available. Domains launched already include .london, .wales and .legal.

> See also: How to use the new web domains to your advantage

The newest release of domain names includes .sucks, .porn and .adult which have attracted controversy as brands and celebrities rush to protect themselves from trolls and malicious sentiment online.

This increased selection of domain names has led to greater choice in the market and has helped consumers to identify what sector an organisation operates in.  New domains, however, can provide an opportunity for trolls and malicious commentators to mock high profile individuals or potentially sabotage businesses.

Cautious celebrities and businesses want to ensure they own all of their online branding. High profile individuals such as Taylor Swift and Richard Branson have purchased the rights to .sucks, .adult and .porn to stop websites carrying their name being used as a platform for complaint or abuse.

It’s not just celebrities who are worried about what these new domain names mean for their brand image. Multinational companies such as Visa, Bing and YouTube have all bought the .sucks domain.

Providing choice or dividing users

Those in favour of the new controversial domain names argue that it offers internet users more choice and allows for consumer advocacy. The .adult and .porn web addresses will help parents filter content and block websites they don’t want their children to see.

However that is only if those websites choose to move away from .com or and introduce .porn and .adult.

Protecting your brand

Businesses will be protected by libel laws but this still leaves trolls and malicious commentators free to abuse these controversial domain names. For any business their brand is their most important asset, even more so online, as it provides a digital signpost for the value and the quality of services provided.

For a brand to be damaged or humiliated presents a very real risk not just for major brands. Trolls can be determined if they really want to attack a business or celebrity.

For celebrities and businesses who want to own all of their online branding, it is sensible to buy the .sucks, .porn and .adult domains for defensive purposes. Purchasing every single new domain name available is not feasible, but identifying and purchasing domains that could cause significant issues should not break the bank.

Securing these domain names will provide long term security to prevent potential reputation damage or even financial loss.

Sourced from Richard Winslow, brand director, 123-reg

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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