The email notice from the company hosting her clinic website was nothing flashy, but it caught Dr. Rae Neumann’s eye all the same.
Soon, the message said, she would have a chance to purchase a domain name with “.vet” as the extension, a variation on the standard “.com.”
As the owner of a veterinary hospital with what she considers an unwieldy Web address, Neumann was excited by the opportunity to change it to something shorter and, she hopes, easier for clients and prospective clients to remember and to type.
“I bought www.mah.vet in October for $37.50, so we have a short and profession-specific new domain. I’m thrilled!” said Neumann, a practitioner in Ohio.
When the address goes live in about a month, it automatically will route browsers to the existing clinic site at www.middletownanimalhospital.com.
Similar transitions are taking place throughout the Web. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees what are known as generic top-level domains, recently approved hundreds of new Internet address extensions — beer, church, discount, hiphop, gripe and sexy, to name just a few. Some extensions are in foreign languages and alphabets. Medical-related extensions introduced this year include clinic and surgery.
Until 2013, only 22 functioning generic top-level domains existed, according to Quartz, an online business news publication. ICANN says that more than 1,300 new names may become available in the next few years. The purpose of the expansion, the organization says, is to enhance competition, innovation and consumer choice.
The extension .vet became available to the public on Oct. 22. As of Dec. 2, nearly 2,700 domains were registered with that extension, according to Rightside, a company headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, that owns and manages the database for all domain names with the .vet extension.
So tickled was Neumann by the prospect of shortening her clinic Web address that she boned up on the process involved in nabbing her desired address as soon as practicable. New top-level domain names, after being introduced by ICANN, enter a period known as sunrise, during which owners of trademarks may register a name that contains the owned mark. Sunrise often is followed by a period called landrush, when the extension is available for a premium price. Finally, the extension becomes available to the general public, first come, first served.
Recounted Neumann: “In October when .vet went live, there was a period of about five days or so prior to it being opened to the general public where you could pay more and go higher on the list to get the name. If multiple people had put in reservations at any level, it would have gone to auction. So I was biting my nails for five days. (But) nobody grabbed it. It was a lot like eBay, and I got really lucky.”
Neumann really wanted mah.vet because she is drawn to the simplicity of three-letter combinations. Three letters apparently have cachet when it comes to Internet addresses. She would like to purchase mah.com, but expects the price would be prohibitive.
“Buying a three-letter domain could easily be $5,000 to $7,000 or more. I can’t justify it,” she said. “There are people and corporations who buy domain names on speculation in anticipation of selling them. I believe the owner of mah.com is doing just that. I don’t think they have any particular tie to that domain name. It’s a valuable and attractive domain name. I can imagine there’s probably a corporation or human hospital out there that fits those initials.”
(Currently, pointing a browser to mah.com takes a user to a page with advertising links, with a message in small type at the top of the page that the domain name is for sale.)
How it’s done
Neumann purchased mah.vet from name.com, a retail domain registrar owned by Rightside. However, a domain name with .vet may be purchased from any of a variety of registrars — it need not be operated by Rightside.
Asked how a website owner should choose among domain registrars, Rightside replied by email:
“Consumers can choose a registrar based on price, breadth of domain options available, additional services they provide and customer service and technical support. Some registrars focus on low-cost and high-volume customers that want to buy many domains but require little in terms of support. Others are more full-service, though they may be slightly more expensive.
“Customers can look around for special deals and coupons for a domain name they want. In choosing their domain provider, however, customers should remember that they will be using their domain for a long time and will be establishing a relationship with the registrar.”
Rightside noted, “Domain-name registrars are free to price domain names as they see fit, given consumer interest and demand.”
Neumann said she was surprised to find that few of her veterinarian friends were aware of the new .vet extension. “Nobody else was geeking out on it like I was,” she said. “Nobody was losing sleep waiting for it.”
She acknowledged that those with a .com address with which they’re happy needn’t worry about switching. “I think .com is still the gold standard, and if you own the .com (that you want), that’s what people think of first, so using that one probably makes the most sense,” she said.
However, Neumann added, it’s a good idea to purchase the .vet version of one’s domain name to protect it. “You wouldn’t want someone else to grab the name and create potential identity confusion,” she said.