Google’s .new top level domains (TLDs) could usher in a new wave of shortcuts for brands.

By Rob Hayashida, Senior Digital Producer and Nick Papagiannis, VP, Search Director

What’s .new?

In October of 2018, Google rolled out a time-saving trick for power users of Google Docs, to help promote its “.new” domain, which can be used to instantly create a new doc, sheet, slide, etc. For example, you could type “doc.new” to create a new Google Doc.

Quicker actions on the web.

One year later and Google has opened up the .new domain extension/shortcut to the rest of the web. Any company or organization can register their own .new domain to generate a shortcut that works with their own web app. Type “reservation.new” and you can start a search for new restaurant reservation on OpenTable.com The intent is to help customers take quicker actions on the web.

Notable brands with .new domains shortcuts:

eBay

Sell.new helps you get your new listing posted quickly

Spotify

Playlist.new create a new playlist to add songs and podcast episodes.

Webex Meeting

Webex.new to start a new meeting

When can I buy a .new top level domain?

Google has designated October 15, 2019 to January 14, 2020 as the “sunrise period” for brand owners to register domain names that have an exact trademark verified in the Trademark Clearinghouse. Limited registration will be open December 2, 2019 to July 20, 2020 where registrants can apply for .new domains. These applications need to comply with Google’s policies and based on domain availability. General availability opens on July 21, 2020 allowing for anyone to register .new domains without having to apply.

All .new domain names are required to comply with the .new Registration Policy, which features a usage-based restriction to ensure that all domains are being used for new actions. In general that means that all .new domains must be used for action generation or online content creation focused and take users directly into the action generation or content creation flow.

Potential areas of impact:

User Experience:  The added ‘new’ domain or command experience is a major enhancement to the traditional user web experience when navigating a website. There are many types of brands which can use this feature to benefit and simplify the user  experience.  Brands should consider their website functions and see if there are important actions on their website for ‘new.’ If there are, you should seek out possible .new domains that make sense.  Generally speaking,  if your brand site requires any kind of action where an order is placed (restaurant, ecommerce, product, car) or if it promotes anything new (new car model, new shoe model, etc.) it makes sense to take advantage of this new feature.

On the other side of this, Google is attempting to change traditional user behavior and actions, which could be a challenge if brands don’t promote the added feature. For brands to see users utilizing the feature, they should promote and educate the new feature to users.

Creative/Content: The new feature offers brands a creative opportunity for to provide content and a creative experience for users. Marketing teams should consider working with creative teams to provide a unique experience on their site versus the traditional point-and-click navigation. As stated in the user experience section above, brands should evaluate their website features, navigation and content to determine if there are key new features that can be moved to the .new domain structure. They should also follow suit with designing a creative and content experience  that is dedicated around  the .new experience. So, for example, if you are a restaurant or ecommerce site that takes new orders, consider the creative experience (menu, prices, common questions, images, chat help, etc.) that would be ideal for someone moving along to process an order and to satisfy their needs.

Tracking: Since .new represents a completely new domain, tracking will have to be set up to track visitors. As users move to different domain, it will be imperative that brands figure out a way to carry over tracking and analytics software to track the entire visit.

SEO: SEO implications are TBD, but the added feature provides good and bad opportunities for brands. Managing and building a new domain can require a lot of work and effort, yet brands have an opportunity to be the first movers in their industry around .new domains from a category perspective. Think travel.new versus expedia.new. Owning that category .new domain can provide significant SEO benefits long-term if users take hold.

Next steps for brands:

Think about your industry, brand website and what type of “new” commands are used around your products/services. From there, brands should use Google Domains to evaluate what domains are available. But, act fast. From what we see, domains are being snatched up quickly.

Conduct an opportunity analysis. Whether it’s search data or website data, analyze your data sources to determine what type of new actions are conducted around your brand, category, and website. If the volume is there, consider forming a plan to purchase and build a .new domain and experience.

Be watchful of adaptation and use. A few years ago gLTDs were the talk of the industry and were expected to make a major impact in the way website domains were structured. A few years have passed and they never really took off, with most sites continuing to use the .com extension. This is not to say that user behavior can’t be changed, but it’s important brands don’t overreact with the latest development.

Will users adopt .new TLDs?

We conducted our own search volume analysis around Google’s year-old docs.new. Right now, search data tells us there isn’t meaningful search volume happening for the exact term doc.new. However, there is meaningful search data around the full search phrases of “new document’” and “Google docs new document.” This tells us that users have not made the switch to using the new domain and are still creating or loading new documents under the old method.

This slow adoption could foreshadow how, and if, users will adapt to other sites using the feature. Brands should proactively prepare and monitor user behavior around .new adoption to ensure they stay on top of any changes.