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Research on New Internet Domain Names Shows U.S. and Europe Lag Behind China in Awareness, Understanding and Usage

Sedo, the world’s largest domain marketplace and monetization provider, today announced the findings of a survey that queried more than 1,150 individuals from the United States, United Kingdom, China and Germany about their perception and awareness of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs). The survey, conducted in May 2014, revealed a number of insights into the global domain name market, including data showing that China is much more advanced than the other countries when it comes to awareness of new top-level domains (TLDs), and has a much more positive outlook for their adoption and success.

In a historic expansion of the Internet’s domain name system, new TLDs started to become available earlier this year, joining traditional extensions such as .com, .net and .org. New TLDs include extensions that are brand specific such as .Nike or .AOL, those that are geographically rooted such as .NYC and .London, those that are written in non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese, and those that are truly generic, such as .music, .home or .inc.

An overwhelming majority of people surveyed showed an understanding of the significance that Internet domain names play in their businesses, with 80 percent saying that they are important. In addition, the survey showed a positive outlook on new TLDs with a wide majority of respondents (63 percent) saying that introducing them was a good idea. However, the level of importance that people in the U.S. place on domain names is at severe odds with their knowledge and outlook on the market. Nearly half of U.S. respondents said that domain names are “very important” to their business – a far higher percentage to hold that belief than in other countries, and a surprising statistic given that the survey in its entirety seems to indicate that those in the U.S. know less and care less about domain names.

The research also found that people are becoming increasingly aware of new TLDs. A 2013 Sedo survey of Americans in marketing professions found that only 25 percent were aware of the new TLDs, a number that has risen to 40 percent among respondents who identify themselves as US-based marketers in this year’s survey. Globally, 41 percent of the 1,150 people surveyed were aware that new TLDs have launched, 40 percent were unaware and 19 percent said it sounded familiar but they weren’t sure.

Despite rising awareness in new TLDs, knowledge about fundamental processes for utilizing them is severely lacking. For example, few respondents knew the difference between a new registry’s Sunrise, Landrush or General Availability phases, or were aware that the Trademark Clearinghouse was established to help protect from infringement on registered marks.

“Most of us use the Internet every day in both our professional and personal lives, so it’s very important to understand the significant changes that are being made to how we navigate the web,” said Tobias Flaitz, CEO at Sedo. “With a large portion of people still unaware that new TLDs exist, and others showing a lack of understanding of how to utilize them, it’s clear that organizations within the domain community must continue to invest in educating businesses and the general public.”

Some of the report’s key findings, by country, include:

U.S.

  • A majority of respondents (54 percent) were unaware of the new gTLDs and that they have begun to launch. This is a far greater lack of awareness than any other country surveyed.
  • Marketers in the U.S. appear to be more skeptical about the launch of new TLDs than any other group. Among marketers in the U.S., 75 percent of them said that the new TLDs would make the internet more confusing, a belief held by only 50 percent of total U.S. respondents and 43 percent of all respondents globally.
  • U.S. marketers have a more negative outlook than they did a year ago, when 62 percent said that the new TLDs would make the Internet more confusing. This, in addition to much more positive opinions from their peers in other countries suggests that recent campaigns against the new TLDs from organizations such as Verisign and the Association of National Advertisers have been successful influencing opinions.

U.K.

  • 44 percent of respondents were unaware of new TLDs.
  • There is still a high level of confusion surrounding the new TLDs, as the vast majority of U.K. respondents (95 percent) do not understand the difference between the Sunrise, Landrush and General Availability phase.
  • Respondents in the UK were least knowledgeable of the Trademark Clearinghouse, with only 6 percent aware that it exists.

Germany

  • Only 29 percent of Germans surveyed are unaware of the new TLDs.
  • A majority of Germans (55 percent) think that introducing new TLDs was a good idea.
  • Confusion is still a major hurdle to overcome, as almost half of total respondents said TLDs will make the internet more confusing, and the majority also felt that confusion is the biggest problem facing the introduction of new TLDs.

China

  • The majority of Chinese respondents have a positive outlook on the new TLDs saying that they believe new TLDs are a good idea (86 percent) and they expect them to make the Internet less confusing (62 percent).
  • Awareness of new TLDs is incredibly high, with very few respondents (4 percent) unaware that the new TLDs have begun to launch. Most (72 percent) even reported that they have seen a new TLD in use.
  • Unlike the other countries surveyed, a large percentage of the Chinese general population (61 percent) reported that they understand the difference between the Sunrise, Landrush and General Availability phases of a new TLD.
  • The high levels of awareness and acceptance of new TLDs in China is most likely an indication that there was a market need and subsequent excitement for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which for the first time enable native speakers of Chinese and other languages to use domain names in their native script.

The “International gTLD Awareness Report” can be downloaded in its entirety at http://bit.ly/1liWbln.

About Sedo

Sedo an acronym for “Search Engine for Domain Offers,” is the leading domain marketplace and monetization provider. Headquartered in Cologne, Germany and with offices in London, England and Boston, USA, Sedo has assembled the world’s largest database of domain names for sale with more than 18 million listings. The success of Sedo's model has attracted a client base of more than 2 million domain professionals in 180 countries worldwide. The company’s support team speaks 23 languages natively while its award-winning interactive marketplace seamlessly services client needs in six different languages. Sedo also has a full suite of services available for new gTLD applicants, including premium auctions in all application phases, marketing support, pricing, consulting and brokerage services to reach domain buyers globally. With more than 13 years of experience, Sedo is trusted by organizations and individuals around the globe as neutral partner for buying, selling and parking domains.

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