The new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) program is still very much in its infancy stages. It’s been less than three years since ICANN delegated the first new gTLD extension, and since then hundreds of new domain extensions have emerged on the market and hundreds more will reach general availability in the coming years. As registries, registrars, investors, and all other end-users navigate the uncharted territory of this program, we will continue to see those who envision the future of the internet to be about choice and progression with new gTLDs, and we will also see many skeptics who believe that the “legacy” TLDs will hold an iron-clad position at the top of the market for many years to come.
Whatever you forecast for the future of domain names, it’s not up to us to convince you either way. What we can do, however, is provide you with reasons why new domain extensions, particularly Chinese-specific Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) can work for brands, business and consumers.
TLD Registry Ltd., the owner and operator of two of the world’s highest rated Chinese domain extensions .在线 (Dot Chinese Online) and .中文网 (Dot Chinese Website) and the parent company of ChopChop.domains, has operated its business the last several years with the vision of providing China with a culturally relevant and linguistically correct alternative for a population of nearly 1.4 billion people and the largest e-commerce market in the world. To support this vision, TLD Registry has created a “mantra” in the form of 12 reasons why Chinese TLDs are valuable assets that can work for brands, businesses, and all other end-users.
Today we’ll go over these Top-12 reasons which will hopefully provide you with a sense of Chinese TLDs’ value, and how they can help you succeed. As mentioned before, our reasons are solid, data-backed proof points to show you why we use it as our daily mantra.
Reason #1 - Establishing a website or service with a fully Chinese domain name shows commitment to Chinese audiences -- consumers, customers, partners, the media, and government regulators. It tangibly demonstrates your desire to offer a completely Chinese information service.
Because nearly 1.4 billion people (almost a quarter of all humanity) call China home, it only makes sense that they would want to use the internet in their own native language. Fully Chinese domain names provide Chinese audiences a quick, easy, and clear understanding of what the website represents, without having to deal with interpreting different languages. Plus, the branch of the Chinese government that regulates the DNS from within China -- The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) -- only considers certain domain extensions “legal” to operate from within China. Just 14 new domain extensions are currently legal in China, with nine being Chinese character specific.
Reason #2 - No English whatsoever stands between your brand and the consumer.
Piggy-backing on reason #1, it only makes sense that a quarter of humanity fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese would want to use the internet in their own native language. Chinese domain extensions immediately conveys meaning to Chinese audiences, which other TLDs, including the legacy TLDs, cannot presume.
Reason #3 - Your fully-Chinese web address eliminates the cognitive dissonance between your URL and your localized Chinese brand name.
In China, English brand names must be localized into Chinese for it to completely make sense to Chinese consumers. You cannot simply do a direct translation of English into Chinese -- It’s much more complex than that. Many foreign brands have had great success with Chinese localization, and some have not fared the best. You have to take into account the culture, language, and other Chinese-specific sensitivities in order to successfully localize your brand in China. With that being said, why not complement your newly-localized Chinese brand name with a fully-Chinese domain name? Again, it just makes sense.
Reason #4 - Your URLs will be much, much more memorable.
After going through reasons 1-3, this reason is rather self-explanatory. Selling products and services to consumers, whether it’s in China or anywhere else in the world, is best done by reaching the customer in the most effective way possible. In particular, it would be counter-productive to try and sell to Chinese consumers with roadblocks in place. China can be a complicated market to navigate, so foreign brands and businesses should seriously consider removing as many roadblocks as possible in order to effectively reach consumers.
English is a roadblock to Chinese consumers, Chinese characters and pinyin are not. English words may not make sense and can be difficult to remember, Chinese characters and pinyin are not. Remove the english roadblocks online by providing Chinese consumers a memorable alternative.
Reason #5 - You will enjoy enhanced brand protection for your localized Chinese brand names.
Many ill-equipped foreign brands entering China have suffered at the hands of malicious online scammers and phishers. With a fully-Chinese localized brand and corresponding domain name, you are significantly reducing the number of scammers who can take advantage of your business and customers. Why? Because the Chinese language is instantly recognizable, which results in netizens better differentiating between which sites are legitimate and which are fallacious.
Reason #6 - Your site's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is enhanced, because your URLs will perfectly match your localized Chinese brand names and messages.
Again, clear the roadblocks! SEO is a proven and reliable method of getting people to your site, if done correctly. Emphasis on the “if done correctly” part, especially as it relates to the Chinese language. Fully Chinese URLs and keywords that match to your brand and what your business is trying to sell can significantly increase traffic to your site. More traffic equals more potential sales.
Reason #7 - Fully-Chinese URLs greatly help consumer protections against phishing attacks. Chinese netizens (and China's government) favor fully-Chinese web addresses because Chinese netizens are more easily able to spot phishing URLs when they're in Chinese.
Along the lines of reason #5, scammers try and take advantage of people online especially if URLs are in a different language. Chinese URLs greatly help consumers pick out something that looks “phishy” online as opposed to trusting non-Chinese language sites.
Reason #8 - Fully-Chinese URLs accelerate the uptake of the Chinese web for new netizens, with particularly good ease of use for rural people and cashed-up "silver surfers" (senior citizens).
The rural and elderly Chinese populations are not only growing substantially, but they are beginning to use the internet more and more, especially for online shopping. China’s “silver surfers,” or those above the age of 50, now number over 200 million, and that number will only continue to rise in the next several decades. To put it simply, the majority of the next billion internet users’ primary language will not be English, it will be Chinese. Since a large number of these next billion internet users are elderly and come from rural parts of China, most will not know english anyway, and it will be key for businesses to cater to this demographic by addressing them, and selling to them, in their native language.
Reason #9 - Entering fully-Chinese web addresses on smartphones, tablets and Windows 8 PCs (using ubiquitous Chinese handwriting recognition) is much easier and faster than typing English web addresses.
The direct input of Chinese characters by drawing them (including in their fast cursive forms) has empowered hundreds of millions of Chinese to easily enter Chinese into a computing device without the unnatural barrier of an ASCII keyboard. People whose pronunciation of Pinyin is non-standard or non-existent (such as those in the south of China, where Mandarin pronunciation is quite different from Standard Mandarin), the undeveloped regions of China’s west (where education is arguably less rigorous, and more agrarian) and overseas Chinese communities which never learned Pinyin or speak Chinese dialects different from Standard Mandarin have embraced direct character input.
The Chinese characters that every Chinese person individually knows and uses can be input to a computer without any special or standard spoken language training – they are input as they have been for thousands of years: using the hand and a pen, brush or fingertip. The wide availability and popularity of direct Chinese character input is a key driver for fully-Chinese IDN domain names.
Reason #10 - Powerful new promotional opportunities are created with the launch of your fully-Chinese domain names. Publicity opportunities abound for new site launches or re-launches.
Have I mentioned that China is home to nearly a quarter of all humanity and boasts the largest e-commerce market in the world? These incredible statistics have foreign brands and business eager to enter the China market and promote their products and services as effectively as possible. What many of these brands and businesses fail to recognize is the importance of making itself easy to find online for Chinese consumers. Reduce the roadblocks and bridge the gap between your business and the dense Chinese online consumer population with a domain names that make sense.
Reason #11 - Meaningful sentences can be composed in the very compact and concise Chinese language, creating rich URLs which marketers will discover new uses for.
The English language has a relatively low information density compared to hyper-compact languages such as Chinese. To express the same idea, an English speaker needs to use more characters (letters) and hence must type a longer domain name.
Chinese is very compact, and a short Chinese string can communicate a lot of meaning. For example, 北京四中篮球校队, meaning “the school basketball team of Beijing’s 4th Middle School” is eight characters in total, vs. 48 characters in English, not including spaces or punctuation.
Reason #12 - Trademark owners will appreciate our simplified Sunrise period and the robust trademark claims process; easy and fast registrations are enabled via the Trademark Clearinghouse.
Western companies must know that the best way to protect their brand in China is to immediately register a trademark so that counterfeit Chinese companies cannot take advantage of their brand. Get yours via our trademark claims process, and give your business a better opportunity to grow and thrive in the China market.
There are so many reasons that Chinese TLDs are good for brands and businesses, and our Top-12 Reasons seem to ring true for TLD Registry’s 54,000+ registrants as well. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs which will dive deeper into each reason and provide you greater context as to why Chinese TLDs can help your brand, business, products, and services succeed in the massive and growing China market.