About and Internet Marketing
by Cory Kleinschmidt - June 25, 2000
Last week I
received an e-mail newsletter from About.com
in which the vertical portal of human guides proudly announced it
was dropping the dot com from its name, and that henceforth it will
simply be known as ... About.
Hmm, I think
I see some confusing headlines in the making, and that's why I wrote
one just now. I want to go down in history as the first tech journalist
to make a pun on this company's new name. Did I make it? E-mail
me if you've seen any others.
renaming trend is becoming a bunch of monkey business. It seems
that a few self-proclaimed geniuses have decided that -- in the
wake of the stock market downturn of April -- it is akin to death
to have dot com in your company name. While it is true that dot-com
stocks have been singled out mercilessly by fair-weathered day tradin'
investor-fools, I have to question the anti-dot-com trend.
when it means changing your name to just About.
What were these
guys thinking? Having the dot com in its name was the only thing
that made sense for them. Dropping it means that they're customers
and investors will be confused when reading or talking about the
company name. Think about it: "Did you hear about About? They're
about to change their name." Huh?
case of mistaken dot identity. Accompany, the group buying service,
recently changed its name to Mob
Shop. I'd have to say that without a doubt, Accompany is the
better name. Apparently they switched because in conversation it
was difficult to talk about the company without causing confusion.
Some people think you mean "a company" when speaking the
name rather than "accompany," which means "to go
the dot com to Accompany would have made a world of difference.
But they've already become Mob Shop, and if you ask me, that's a
worse name than Accompany.
trend also stems from the belief that it in 5 years, the dot-com
suffix may seem quaint and old-fashioned. Maybe, but maybe not.
Having the suffix is still the best way to convey what direction
your company is moving. For some Internet-only companies like Accompany,
it's a perfect branding complement to have the dot com. For old
economy stalwarts like Wal-Mart, it's obviously senseless to change
the company name to Wal-Mart.com, because they're not an Internet-only
In five years, we may still attach the dot com to company names.
There are many benefits, after all.
the company URL. In this day and age when good domain names
are hard to find, many companies are being forced to use dot net
or some other weird combination for their URLs. If your company
name is Widgets, but your URL is widgets.net, your potential customers
may guess that your domain name is Widgets.com, but if another
company has that name, you're out of luck. If you had to settle
for Widgets.net, you've lost an opportunity to advertise your
Web site by not saying "We're Widgets.net."
confusion. Witness the Accompany example above.
important branding clues. Again, as I mentioned above, being
a dot com implies many things about your company. Stock-minded
people may think this is a bad connotation, but with the world
becoming more Internet-centric, I see the dot-com suffix as an
indicator of a company's sensibilities. As one who is forever
committed to the Internet lifestyle, I appreciate Internet companies
and support them whenever I can.
So, until every
company is e-nabled, I think we will continue to see this trend
expand, until that day when domain names are replaced with a better
naming system, such as RealNames' Internet keywords, which I will
write about one day soon!
But don't get
me started on ICAAN's plan to expand the top-level domains. If you
thought domain names were confusing so far, wait until that happens!
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