REDDING, CT: Brands need to be aware of the potential pitfalls associated with adopting one of a raft of new top-level domain names, including the extension .sucks.
The early registration period for the latter starts at the end of March and continues to the start of June, giving brands a two month window to get in ahead of would-be cyber squatters.
But that will come at a stiff cost, noted Marketing Land, as it considered the prices being asked. These range from as little as $10 a year for consumers buying a .sucks domain via a "consumer advocate subsidy" to $2,499 for companies registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse.
"I can think of no other way to label it than what it is: plain and simple economic extortion," said Ron Sheridan, a former business development director for Domain Sponsor and Oversee.net.
And in that assessment he was echoing Jay Rockerfeller, a former US Senator, who described it as "little more than a predatory shakedown scheme".
John Berard, CEO of Vox Populi, the business administering the .sucks domain, said the pricing was intended "to get people [and brands] to use these".
Brands are likely to buy domains featuring these new names up as a defensive manoeuvre, according to Sheridan.
"The practical reality for big brands," he said, "is as soon as one of their brands goes live on a .sucks domain, the social media blowback and associated negative PR will create a financial impact far and away larger than the $2,500 worst case scenario if they [register the domain] early and pre-emptively."
An alternative view is that a determined detractor can already register a name like YourBrandSucks.com and that a negative review, tweet or blog post can potentially do far more damage.
One branding expert suggested there was creative potential in the new domain. "Badbreath.sucks for a chewing gum company, boringfood.sucks for a fast food concern," offered Adam Padilla of BrandFire. "The possibilities are endless."
Data sourced from Marketing Land; additional content by Warc staff