As the use of the Internet grows exponentially year on year, more websites are needed to meet the growing demand from users with businesses, celebrities and individuals all buying new domain names to own their corner of the virtual world. However, even though the launch of over 1,000 new domain names, which began in 2013, has given rise to new online opportunities, there has also been a growing fear around the more controversial domain names such as .sucks, .porn and .adult. Such domain names have caused some panic buying amongst celebrities and businesses, to prevent being subjected to malicious online sentiment.

Controversial new domains

Celebrities and businesses often want to ensure that 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 abusing their name. 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. However, perhaps it is time to consider how to use these domains actively, rather than to let them languish unused online.

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. For example, the company behind the .sucks domain name, Vox Populi, has established the self-effacing website, where visitors can give feedback on this new domain name. Customers already regularly write negative comments on reviews sites, such as TripAdvisor or Review Centre, so it makes sense for businesses to seize this opportunity to provide a forum for honest feedback and ultimately allow them to improve the overall customer experience.

Creative marketing

Controversial domain names can also form the basis for a provocative marketing campaign for both large businesses and start-ups alike. From sports teams buying .sucks domain names to create a friendly rivalry with one another, to start-ups encouraging their first customers to vent about things that annoy them, these domain names can spark a wave of interest to help organisations make an impact in their market. These domain names can also present a powerful and emotive message for non-profit organisations, such as The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation buying the domain.

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. For any company, brand is their most important asset, and even more so online as it provides a digital signpost for the value and quality of services provided. However, there’s further potential for those who want to take a proactive approach to customer feedback and guidance, and incorporating a .sucks website into a business strategy could be a unique selling point.


By Richard Winslow, Brand Director at 123-reg. 

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