The AFL has become the first sport in the world to launch its own online domain, www.play.afl, as marketers tap into new and unique domains including .sydney and .melbourne, as resources to set themselves apart from competitors.
The rise of sport and city-specific domains is being embraced by businesses eager to gain an online foothold after missing out on a .com or .au address.
More than 18,000 companies have signed up for domain names ending in .sydney or .melbourne, allowing them to market their brands with easy to remember URLs, often allowing them to own an entire category.
The AFL leads the world with its own domain
But the AFL has become one of the first organisations in the world to own its own domain with the launch of the .afl URL which it will use as the backbone to build community engagement in the sport.
In Sydney, Warringah Council has taken on the URL www.northernbeaches.sydney as part of its campaign around proposed council amalgamations.
Michael Korjen from Neusta, the company handling the registry of domain names, said use of domain names as marketing vehicles for businesses in Sydney and Melbourne has been growing slowly since they were released less than two years ago, but were now being marketed more aggressively.
The key to the success was the policy limitations on use that mean that the domain’s could not be abused and which also sidestepped the issue of cybersquatting..
“Name spaces such as .com and .tv do not have use policies tied to them so anyone can register under those domains,” Korjen said.
“The Victorian and NSW governments made sure that these were digital assets… for example, the policy with using .melbourne is it has to be a business residing in the State.”
Early movers have been able to give themselves strong positioning in their sectors, such as a group of martial arts schools in Sydney which registered the URL www.kungfu.sydney.
Other Sydney businesses that have moved on the localised domain include the Sydney Fish Markets, Luna Park and Barangaroo.
In Victoria the Melbourne Festival has begun using the .melbourne domain to promote itself, admitting it had, at first, been skeptical of the idea after being approached by Neustar about taking on the name.
Melbourne Festival: “We have made more of a deal of it than the .com.au”
David Geoffrey Hall, head of marketing for the Melbourne Festival said it has allowed the event to take ownership of its position on the calendar and in the minds of consumers.
“It was a totally new idea to us,” Geoffrey Hall said.
“We have made more of a deal of it than the .com.au domain and we have made it another way to reinforce our name.”
Krojen said the use of more targeted domain names was still in the early stages of being adopted and adapted by marketers as they sought to understand how best to use them.
“We are still in the innovation and early adopter phase,” he said.
“But we are seeing great uses of it from around the world, such as New York City.”