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Work needed to educate online shoppers on the benefits of gTLDs: study

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There’s work to be done in educating online shoppers about the benefits of the soon-to-emerge gTLDs, a new study suggests.

Generic Top-Level Domains (GTLDs) will start to be launched this year by companies such as Amazon , Nike and Google . But research from Afilias, which provides domain registry services around the world, has found that few consumers are aware of the change – and many would rather use traditional web addresses than the new formats. Thus, 73% of UK adults would rather visit a heritage address such as, rather than In the US the figure is 61%.

Afiliasdot Brand or dot What? Report polled 2,000 people in the UK and 2,000 in the US in order to gauge perceptions and understanding of changes that will see more than 1000 new gTLDs launched by organisations and household brands, starting this year.

But the changes, which come from internet governing body ICANN and are intended to foster innovation and improve consumer security on the internet, were only known by 21% of UK respondents and 22% of those questioned in the US. However, 25% of UK adults and 21% of US adults said they would be slightly more likely to trust that goods sold on these domains were legitimate.

“The advent of new gTLDs coming over the months ahead will result in major changes to the internet,” said Roland LaPlante, chief marketing officer at Afilias. “Some of the world’s best-known companies will roll out a dot brand extension but our research shows consumers are unaware that these changes are coming and would avoid the new gTLDs due to their unfamiliarity. However, they offer consumers great benefits, such as reducing the risk of purchasing counterfeit goods online.

“Our research demonstrates that businesses need to seriously consider the ways they will integrate the new gTLDs into their online strategies and how they will educate consumers about their benefits.”

The study also found concerns among UK and US respondents about internationalized domain names (IDNs), which use non-Roman characters, such as Russian and Chinese script. Some 65% of UK respondents and 60% of US respondents said they would navigate away from IDNs. Among the over-55s in both markets, that figure stood at more than 70%.

LaPlante said education was needed. “British and American consumers should understand that if a domain name isn’t written in a script they readily recognise it doesn’t meant he site is dangerous. In reality, websites using IDNs will create an improved, more relevant web experience for consumers around the world.”

Afilias provides registry and DN sesrvices for more than 20m domains, including 8m .info and 1m .mobi domains.

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