Go Daddy ready to launch ‘.co’ marketing blitz

PHOENIX — While the “.net”, “.org” and “.gov” Internet domains are growing in popularity among those launching new websites, none have come close to threatening the decades-long reign of “.com.”

But the “.co” domain may be the hottest new Web address, one that could be the first real .com competitor, according to some inside the domain-name industry.

Scottsdale-based Go Daddy was one of a few domain providers authorized to sell that domain suffix when it when it was launched in July. Now with about 250,000 .co registrations under its cap so far, the Internet-domain registrar will use its annual Super Bowl commercial next month to draw attention to it before television’s biggest annual audience.

And the company will do it as only Go Daddy can.

The spot will unveil the new GoDaddy.co Girl who will join the ranks of other celebrity spokeswomen such as race-car driver Danica Patrick and celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels.

The company did not share how much it spent this year on the Super Bowl ads, but reports estimated that 30-seconds of airtime cost about $2.5 million last year.

The company is keeping the new girl’s identity under wraps until Super Bowl Sunday.

“Our new GoDaddy.co Girl is already a big name, but after this Super Bowl commercial, she’s going to be in a whole new realm,” CEO Bob Parsons said in a statement.

Unlike other .com alternatives, the .co domain, which gained about 600,000 registered names worldwide since its launch, should do well simply because it sounds so similar to .com, said Richard Merdinger, senior director of domain-registration service for Go Daddy.

“There’s an international recognition of using .co to represent a company,” he said. “We were exceptionally pleased with the volume of registrations we did do so far.”

The .co suffix offers a whole new realm of opportunities for those searching to establish their Web presence, Merdinger said.

Industry insiders see a similar trend.

“We’re seeing individuals registering them for themselves, their blog, their businesses,” said Lori Anne Wardi, director of marketing for .CO Internet S.A.S., the official .co registry, which allows registrars such as Go Daddy to sell its domain names to the public. “We want to be where the next Facebook starts and the next Twitter starts.”

Before its July launch, the .co domain was restricted for use by the Colombian government, much like the United States has the “.us” domain, Wardi said.

The decision to expand the domain name for public use last year follows the example of other country-code names that have become more popular in the mainstream, such as Tuvalu’s “.tv” and Montenegro’s “.me.”

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit in charge of assigning domains, also is in talks about expanding generic domains, such as .com, so that a corporation could become its own registry. For example, Ford could apply to obtain a “.ford” domain name.

“It’s a way for corporations to brand themselves,” said Brad White, an ICANN spokesman. “It’s a huge revolution in the Internet.”

.CO Internet, a Colombia-based company, decided to only work with 10 registries, including Go Daddy, for the first year, Wardi said.

Its annual fee at Go Daddy is pricier — $29.99 compared with $11.99 for .com and other domains.

Wardi said the idea was to prevent devaluing of the domain. People will be less-willing to buy .co names in bulk and have them sit useless while waiting to be resold at a profit, which is another reason why .com names have become scarce, she said. (By Krisena Hansen)

Soruce: USA Today

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