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More URL domains on the horizon

January 4, 2016
Dealers and other automotive businesses soon will have three more domain extensions to choose from when crafting their Web presence: .cars, .car, and .auto. 
The new extensions can potentially give dealerships a marketing advantage over what often are expensive or lengthy .com URLs.
Consider, for example, that Nissan.com actually is owned by a computer company. Now, Nissan Automotive has the opportunity to lock down Nissan.auto to replace some of the longer domains the company now uses.
Coveted .com domains are increasingly getting costly to obtain, with some two-letter .com domains selling for more than $1.5 million, and some three-letter domains fetching $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 Jan. 20.
In discussing the reasoning for the new domain extensions, Daniel Negari, chief executive of Cars Registry, explained that since the 1990s there have been only a handful of relevant domain options available — think .com, .org, .net — and many of the best domain names were taken early.
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."
Negari said 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 said. "For example, a dealer could display his 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 is taking. The Midwest dealership is preparing to rebrand from STLMotorcars.com to STL.cars. The dealer principle, Graham Hill, said he 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."
Mobile users
 
Few mobile users want to type a long, cumbersome URL on their smartphones, which is why shorter URLs are becoming more and more important as mobile Web usage grows, especially in terms of vehicle shopping.
 
Negari said there 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. Not surprisingly, shorter URLs tend to be more popular.
"As digital ad spending 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:
• Kain.auto (previously KainAutomotive.com)
• STL.cars (previously STLmotorcars.com)
• MarketPunch.auto (previously MarketPunch.com)
• Lucra.cars (previously LucraCars.com) 
 
Following a 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. Beginning Jan. 20, the domains will become open to the public through retailers such as Network Solutions and GoDaddy.
 
 

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