New gTLDs: The Impact On Email

In case you haven’t heard, the Internet will be changing somewhat drastically over the next few years. ICANN, the nonprofit organization that oversees the domain name system, announced the new gTLD (generic top level domain) program early last year that will expand the current pool of obtainable generic domain suffixes from 20 or so, to well over 1,000. A TLD is the last part of a fully qualified domain name (e.g. .com, .net, .org). The new TLDs will be mostly common nouns like .clothing or .app, but now there is also the opportunity for companies to secure their own brands as TLDs such as .mcdonalds or .nike.

You can pre-register a bunch now at most popular domain registrars such as GoDaddy and 1&1 and over the next two years about 20 new TLDs will be released each week. While no exact dates are given, it appears the first batch of new gTLDs will go live sometime in the next month or two. Here’s ICANN’s video of applied-for TLD’s:

What impact, if any, will the gTLD program have on the email world?

Some companies may currently analyze the breakdown of TLDs of their email list, or even use it as quality control check before sending out a mailing.  It will probably take some time before these new domains are popular enough to throw off any reports. However, 1&1 is reporting close to 5 million pre-registrations already, so all bets are off. Other organizations may also have different values for different TLDs (e.g. a .com address is better than a .org address). It will be interesting to see where these new gTLD email addresses will fit in.

The only arena I truly see being affected by the influx of new gTLDs is email validation. Depending on the depth of your current email validation setup, the impact will vary. If you are simply using a regex script, or a hard-coded set of acceptable TLDs, you might run into some issues when people using their new .email (yes, that’s a new TLD) email address try to register on your site. If you are using an email validation vendor, you should check in with them to see how they plan on handling the continuous influx of new TLDs. At FreshAddress, we have automated monitoring of IANA’s (a department of ICANN) root zone database that maintains the official list of valid TLDs. We routinely add new TLDs to our master database to ensure any new sign ups on your website will be checked against an up-to-date knowledgebase. If you aren’t using an email validation vendor currently, maybe now is the time to start. While you could monitor IANA’s list, it will become a maintenance hassle with the continuously changing list.

I’d love to hear any other predictions on implications of the new gTLD program will have on email – please leave them in the comments!

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