As announced last week, automotive companies will soon have three more domain extensions to choose from when crafting their Web presence: .cars, .car and .auto.
The domains are being launched by Cars Registry — a joint venture between domain companies XYZ and Unregistry.
To get some insight into what this means for dealers, Auto Remarketing reached out to Daniel Negari, chief executive officer of Cars Registry.
“Cars Registry Ltd. was formed by two domain industry leaders, XYZ and Uniregistry, with the vision of providing authoritative and memorable domain options for the auto industry,” he said.
So, why the new domains? Here is a look into what led to that decision.
Reasoning for the move
In discussing the reasoning for the new domain extensions, Negari explained that since the 1990s there have only been a handful of relevant domain options available — think .com, .org, etc. — and many of the best domain names were taking early on.
Negari said this left “many dealers,OEMs and vendors with their third- or fourth-choice URLs.”
“Especially given the growth of mobile traffic, there has been an increasing demand for short and memorable domain names, and a continual lack of supply,” he said.
“We brought .xyz to the market for every website everywhere, and now the auto industry will have the chance to get the domain name they have always wanted,” he continued.
He offered this example: Nissan.com is actually owned by a computer company. And now, Nissan Automotive has the opportunity to lock down Nissan.auto to replace some of the longer domains they use today.
What does it mean for dealers?
The new extensions can potentially give dealerships a marketing advantage over what are often expensive or lengthy .com URLs.
Negari said, in particular, for those dealers with longer domain names the company is recommending they upgrade their existing lengthy domain to a memorable two letter, three letter or one-word domain.
“We offer complimentary white glove service to aid dealerships in migrating their current website to their new .cars, .car, or .auto domain,” said Negari. “This process only takes a couple days and their SEO, ranking, and emails are maintained in the process.”
If dealers choose this approach, the company’s team will handle the entire migration process, and Negari said they have done so dozens of times in the past “without a hitch."
Dealers also can use "do it yourself" migration guide for anyone who would like to upgrade their domain, which can be found here.
Negari explained the new domains have the potential to help dealers capture more organic search engine traffic, as well.
“Almost every domain variation will be available to register, including city, state, and region domain names,” Negari explained. “For example, a dealer could display their pre-owned inventory on LosAngeles.cars, and then start to capture search engine traffic for competitive keywords like ‘los angeles cars’ and ‘los angeles used cars’. The dealer could then run search engine marketing, TV, print, and radio campaigns and track the results on their new Web address.”
This is the approach early adopter St. Louis Motorcars took. The Midwest dealership rebranded from STLMotorcars.com to STL.cars.
The dealer principle, Graham Hill, than used the money the business might have spent on a comparable .com domain on a new ad campaign to promote the store.
“Buying the .com version of STL would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and STL.cars works exactly the same way, but looks better in advertising,” Hill said. “I got a better looking name for less money and used the savings over securing the .cars equivalent, to market my new website on duPont REGISTRY.”
And coveted .com domains go for increasingly large amounts of money. Negari shared that over the past 12 months, he has seen two-letter .com domains sell for over $1.5 million, while some three-letter domains have come for over $50,000.
On the other hand, all .cars, .car, and .auto domain names will be priced at the same flat rate of $3,000 MSRP per year, beginning on Jan. 20.
Domains expected to go quickly
To start off, between Dec. 9 and Jan. 12, the domains will be first made available to trademark holders registered in the company’s Trademark Clearinghouse.
Following this trademark period, a public priority registration period will start on Jan. 12 to give anyone an opportunity to register any available domains for a premium fee before they enter general availability.
And then on Jan. 20, the domains will become open to the public through Cars Registry’s retailers, including Network Solutions and GoDaddy.
And Negari expects these domains to go quickly.
“We have already received contact from many large car manufacturers and dealer groups who will be registering their trademark domain names in the initial trademark holder exclusive period,” said Negari. “There has also been a lot of interest in securing keyword-rich domains during the public priority registration period when domains like Buy.cars, Compare.cars, LA.cars and Luxury.auto are expected to be registered.”
From the initial feedback the company has received from smaller auto dealers and venders, the majority of respondents wanted to register at least one address with the new domain extensions.
But in many cases, they are requesting 10 to 30 domains for each dealership “in order to lock up the geographic variant ending with .cars, model names ending in .car, and their automotive group name ending in .auto for SEO/SEM purposes,” said Negari.
In other words, domains will be going and going fast.
Shorter URLs preferable to mobile users
Who wants to type in some long, cumbersome URL on their smartphone? Well … no one, really, which is why shorter URLs are becoming more and more important as mobile Web usage grows, especially in terms of vehicle shopping.
Negari said that have been a number of studies done on the effectiveness of shorter URLs and the direct correlation between the number of characters in a URL and the popularity of the website, and, not surprisingly, shorter URLs tend to be more popular.
“As digital ad spend in the auto industry continues to grow, along with the amount of mobile users, the demand for short, catchy domains is also increasing,” said Negari. “.cars, .car, and .auto domain names allow for innovation and empower businesses to drive their brand and secure some of the Internet's most valuable real estate.”
There will be many more to come, but for inspiration, here are a few examples of the auto businesses who have already made the switch to one of the three new domains: