From January, companies can apply to The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for any domain name they wish in a language of their choice, for a fee of $185,000 (£115,000).
The move means businesses will be able to apply for their own web real estate to market their brands.
Currently there are 22 internet domain names (also called generic top-level domains) including .com, .org and .net. Under the new domain name system brands and companies can select their preferred domain name, which could see URLs such as .nike, .apple and .coke.
“ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination,” said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s president and chief executive officer. “Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script.”
One survey suggests that there is considerable demand among big businesses for buying a new domain name.
150 multinational companies told Melbourne IT DBS, a digital brand consultancy, that they were thinking about applying for a new domain name. The most popular choice of domain name (92%) was the company’s main brand name, or a ’.brand’.
Other companies said they were interested in applying for a generic domain suffix, such as .bank, or .hotel.
Stuart Durham, Europe, Middle East and Africa sales director at Melbourne IT, says: “If companies have shorter URLs it will help people remember their marketing campaign and brand – for example getwings.redull,” said Durham.
Brand-name domains may also be more trusted by consumers browsing online, he says, adding that consumers may find brand name domains easier to remember and find online, although companies with brands longer than seven characters may not be suited to personalised domains.