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Looking to the future, Dominion makes a buy

Dave McMahon, Editor in Chief
December 16, 2013
Filed under Features

New domain extension .motorcycles offered to industry

Dominion Powersports Solutions announced last month that it had submitted the winning bid for the new domain extension “.motorcycles.” Until now, website addresses have largely ended with familiar “top level domains” such as .com, .org or .edu. But a recent expansion allowed hundreds of new generic top level domains, like .shop, .free or .smile.

With the acquisition of .motorcycles by Dominion Powersports Solutions, the powersports industry will have access to the extension, which will be operated exclusively by Dominion Powersports Solutions.

The nonprofit organization that oversees the domain extensions, called The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is in the process of approving up to 1,400 domain extensions, up from the current 22.

How important was the recent expansion of domain extensions? Google applied for more than 100 generic names, including .car and .store. Winning bids provide those companies with exclusive rights to the domain suffixes. For example, Dominion will have exclusive rights over .motorcycles. Domain registrars like GoDaddy.com will need to contract with Dominion and observe Dominion’s rules and regulations in order to offer URLs with the .motorcycles domain.

There were no other powersports-related trade-specific or generic names submitted during the process, and it is unlikely there will be another round of applications for several years.

“Dominion Powersports has taken a critical leap ahead on behalf of our customers. As Google continues to personalize the search experience for consumers, top-level domains like .motorcycles will elevate our dealer customers in the search results,” said Jeff Littlejohn, president of Dominion Powersports Solutions. “While some have downplayed this worldwide initiative, the proactive response of technology leaders demonstrates the impact the new top-level domains will have on the visibility of businesses on the Internet.”

Powersports Business reached out to Littlejohn to provide further background on the acquisition of .motorcycles.

PSB: How did you decide that .motorcycles would be an asset for Dominion Powersports Solutions?

JL: We noticed from our own research that .motorcycles would be the most impactful for businesses in the powersports industry. Consumers are searching more based on product-specific searching, and as search becomes more personalized and descriptive, the .motorcycles extension would bring the most value and have the most impact for powersports dealers.

PSB: It’s hard not to overlook the fact that Google was obviously interested in purchasing a healthy share of newly available top-level domains.

JL: Yes, it’s important to know we’re not the only innovators in the technology space who are investing in the top-level domains. Google had 101 applications for the newest extensions. We feel like it was very important to secure this valuable top-level domain on behalf of our powersports dealers. We anticipate the generic top-level domain .motorcycles is going to become a strategic component to our dealers’ online visibility. That’s going to become increasingly important as we continue to see a migration of consumer search behavior moving from desktop to mobile.

PSB: Looking at organic search, especially as it moves to mobile, how will dealers or other businesses in the industry benefit from the .motorcycles domain?

JL: There’s a limited amount of real estate on the first page of a search result on mobile device, whether it’s a tablet or mobile phone. It’s going to become increasing difficult for powersports dealers to show up on the first page of those organic search results. Having an industry-specific, product-specific generic top-level domain, like .motorcycles, is going to deliver the most value for powersports dealers and could be the difference maker.

PSB: How does the acquisition meld into the other technology that Dominion is in the process of rolling out?

JL: As the search behavior continues to migrate to mobile — and we’re witnessing that as we speak with our own websites — our strategy is to be able to provide dealers an end-to-end solution. We’re in the process of introducing our new technology platform, DX1, into the marketplace. We find that the .motorcycles top-level domain is a piece of that strategy, and we want to allow dealers, by using our innovative new technology platform, to be able to manage their business.

PSB: From the perspective of a dealer or other industry company, when will they be able to proceed if they’re interested in securing the .motorcycles domain for their business?

JL: We’re still in the process of working out all the details of how that process will take shape. We certainly would invite dealer to talk to us about this, because now it’s an important time to educate the dealers on how the Internet landscape is going to change. As generic top-level domains become increasingly important to the Internet and search engine results and consumer driven search behavior, they know we’ve made that investment on their behalf.

PSB: How will a dealer see the value in obtaining the .motorcycle domain?

JL: There will be a period of time by which the value of a .motorcycles extension will be increasingly obvious. The impact these generic top-level domains will have on organic search results in the future is where that value will be derived.

PSB: Now for the always-fun question. What will pricing look like?

JL: I wish I could answer that, but this news is so new that we have to vet out exactly what that will look like.

PSB: If my business is David’s Powersports and my current site address is DavidsPowersports.com or .biz or .net, how would adding the .motorcycles extension change things?

JL: Dealers today can have multiple sites running parallel of one another that can serve different purposes. Eventually I think this space will be well-defined. Our opinion is that the more specific extensions such as .motorcycles will become increasingly more valuable based on 1) how consumer behavior and personalized search becomes increasingly important in driving organic results; and 2) the value of that limited real estate as consumer behavior and how they search — and the device from which they search — becomes increasingly smaller and condenses the availability of real estate on the first page of those organic search results.

PSB: From the outside, this seems like a smart move and one that points to the future.

JL: We feel that way. This isn’t something that’s happened overnight. We’ve been out in front of this for some time. This process has been ongoing, and we’ve invested significant time and resources in securing this for powersports dealers. We’re excited about it and excited about telling everyone about it, because it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort on a lot of talented folks within our organization. But there is an education process, because anything new and innovative, people have to understand and see the value in how it’s going to impact and deliver the value to their business based on the changes that are going to take place on the Internet landscape. We’re willing as an organization to take that risk and make that investment on behalf of our dealers because our customers are that important to us. We want to be viewed as their strategic business partner by making investments in top-level domains when no one else in the industry has made this kind of investment.

PSB: Were their any other companies within powersports that applied for the domain?

JL: We were the only ones who applied. Sometimes positioning yourself as an innovator means you have to do things others aren’t comfortable with. And we’re OK with that, because our customers are that important to us. Ultimately we want to make sure we’re securing the future of their online storefronts. The way consumers search and the way that search engines will place value on different aspects of the Internet as it changes, specifically tying back to that movement from desktop to mobile, is going to be critical to their success.

 

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