Sunday, 2 February 2020 was not only a highlight for Football fans, but also for marketers and businesses. While the Kansas City Chiefs beat the 49ers, millions of people in the stadium and in front of the TV were treated to brand-new ads by some of the world’s most successful companies.
Advertisers have used the popularity of the Super Bowl again and again to set new trends and standards that influence mainstream media. One trend immediately caught our attention: marketers put the domain name front and center in ads for online businesses – with resounding success. Squarespace’s 2017 Super Bowl ad featuring John Malkovich left viewers laughing with tears, and GoDaddy.com’s controversial ads regularly make waves.
We couldn’t wait to see if new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) would get any exposure this year. They didn’t, unfortunately. Still, we want to share our take on this year’s Super Bowl ads and what it means for the growth of new gTLDs. But first, let’s get quickly up to speed on the evolution of domain names.
New gTLDs are on the rise
Since ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved over 1,200 new gTLDs in 2012, users have a broad choice when creating their online identity. While the top three domain names by market share remain .com, .net, and .org, new gTLDs are growing in popularity.
Businesses and website owners are embracing new gTLDs as a way to express themselves and reach a new level of specificity that just wasn’t possible anymore with standard gTLDs. As of January 2020, there are almost 32 million registered new gTLD domains. The current top three are .icu, .top, and .xyz. Our own .blog has reached over 181,000 domains, growing steadily since its introduction in 2016.
2020 Super Bowl ads featuring domain names
Surprisingly, there weren’t too many commercials displaying the domain names during this year’s Super Bowl. And new gTLDs didn’t make it into any ad. But, we did manage to catch the few that showed their .com domains. Here are our favorites:
In this ad, Stranger Things star Winona Ryder travels to her namesake, Winona, Minnesota, to build a website about the small town. It’s hard not to be charmed when she proudly exclaims: “It’s got pictures on it!” You can see the domain of the actual website WelcometoWinona.com prominently on screen before Squarespace’s tagline “A website makes it real” appears. Squarespace did an excellent job, again, at communicating that everybody can make a website about anything.
If you are wondering whether you are watching a commercial for a restaurant chain or an insurance company, then you aren’t alone. The diners at Portabella’s seemed to recognize Progressive Insurance employees Flo and Jamie posing as waiter and waitress. The insurer actually registered the domain name Portabellas.com for its fictional restaurant. You can see the URL prominently marketed at the end of the commercial.
This ad didn’t only melt the hearts of animal lovers, but likely of anybody watching. WeatherTech dog Scout shares the story of how he survived cancer. And shows how everyone can make a difference to pets’ lives by donating via weathertech.com/donate. The URL is not only shown on screen for several seconds but is also mentioned by the narrator.
If you are into avocados, then this spot is for you. Avocados from Mexico sells adorable accessories for avocado lovers via its shopping channel. You can see the domain name TheAvoNetwork.com multiple times during the ad, just below the price tags for products such as the Avo-Carrier, the Tortilla Chip Pool Float, and the Matching Travel Collection.
Also the presidential campaign of Mike Bloomberg couldn’t go without featuring his domain name mikebloomberg.com during his Super Bowl ad.
Discover’s short and sweet ad ends with their domain name Discover.com shown on screen under their tagline.
New gTLDs mean new opportunities
Although new gTLDs are growing, we still have a way to go given the lack of usage in this year’s Super Bowl ads. However, we are confident that brands will soon realize the many opportunities that a non-.com domain name can provide. Here are just a few:
- Exact messaging – A .brand, .shop, or .car domain name doesn’t leave any room for interpretation, making it easier for potential new clients to grasp the nature of your business.
- Easy to remember – When a fitting .com name is just not available or too expensive to acquire, many companies resort to longer domain names. But, by utilizing a new gTLD, brands can create much shorter, more memorable domains.
- Enhanced brand awareness – Imagine if Turbotax were to establish the domain name turbo.tax. New gTLDs can be catchy, making it easy for customers to associate them with the brand.
We are excited to see how the adaptation of new gTLDs progresses this year and if new domain extensions will make their way into next year’s commercials. We believe they will!