Many digital marketers have employed a vanity domain at least once in their careers, employing a snappy second extension or URL to redirect customers to a main .com destination.
But a growing trend sees domain extensions that are less about vanity and more about purpose and social good. That includes the .black extension, used for sites like Bid.black, Saatchi & Saatchi producer Sydni Chustz’s directory of Black film and video production talent. Identity domains like .black tell visitors that the website is invested in a particular community, willing to go the extra step of breaking out from the status quo to prove it.
Starting today, brands and the general public can use a new domain extension to show their affinity to the LGBTQ community by registering URLs ending with .gay. The new .gay domain was created by Top Level Design, a Portland, Ore.-based firm headed by SnapNames and ICANNwiki founder Ray King.
While today marks the public launch, the firm has quietly built a foundation of early adopters throughout the spring and summer. From consumer brands like Atari and apps like Grindr, to LGBTQ influencers including George Takei and Billie Jean King, early adopters have eagerly launched new websites with the .gay extension.
Multichannel marketing efforts have helped place .gay in context and show its authentic connection to the community. Also today, .gay launches The Library, a new 10-episode online video series featuring a cast of LGBTQ influencers and creators. And GoDaddy, an early .gay partner, worked with some of its own LGBTQ employees to create their own websites using the domain extension.
“Now more than ever, LGBTQ visibility, community connection and the distribution of health information is paramount. We’re proud to amplify representation and foster digital Pride by broadly sharing .gay with the world,” said King, CEO of Top Level Design, in a statement to Adweek. “We’ve already seen incredible interest and support from Fortune 100 companies and small businesses to LGBTQ brands and public figures, with hundreds of .gay domain names registered during our prelaunch phases.”
Takei said he’s using his .gay site as a destination for all of his LGBTQ-specific content, adding, “The gays are taking over!” Along with Takei, many of the early adopters are either LGBTQ influencers or companies or organizations that market mostly to the community.
But big brands are using the extension to show their allyship, too. When Atari signed on as an early .gay adopter, it became the first major consumer brand to do so.
“For over 40 years, Atari has been a diverse entertainment brand dedicated to creating meaningful, fun and inclusive experiences,” said Atari vp of marketing Tony Chien. “Representation is important, and by collaborating with the team at .gay, we want to prominently show LGBTQ people that Atari has always seen and supported them—and will continue to proudly do so.”
Authentic LGBTQ marketing now means giving back to the community, not just profiting off it. With that in mind, 20% of all revenue from new .gay registrations goes to benefit LGBTQ nonprofits. The initial partners are GLAAD and CenterLink, the network of LGBTQ community centers, and the team at .gay has already donated $34,000 with an additional $40,000 on the way via recent registrations. There’s also a free registration program for LGBTQ community organizations and services.