The launch of .London: a stride forward in UK digital development

LondonThe .London domain launches today. It marks the next stage in the capital’s evolution and reinforces its standout role on the global stage.

London is continually reinventing itself; from a European, to a global business leader. Historically, as a cultural, economic and industrial powerhouse, and now as a brand in its own right.

Savvy companies and brands alike are tapping into this development and cultural buzz; many brands have recognised that having the company HQ in London brings a caché which few other locations can match. The availability of .London is another extension of our ability to digitally innovate, further grist to the mill of London’s ability to challenge other global cities as an advertising and marketing leader.

Without wanting to get too carried away, one domain name extension is not likely to change the world. But it’s another step on the road of the UK’s forefront in tech and media: from the Mail Online being the world’s most read digital publication; the launch of London Live and reinvention of the Evening Standard. From London as a publishing media centre; from the development of the World Wide Web. Alone, .London may not change the shape of the online experience, but it offers brands an opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist, as well as a way for many to engage on a deeper level with the city’s community.

It’s too early to state conclusively if .London will be the domain of capital-specific entities. Early adopters of the service so far include Fortnum & Mason, West Ham United FC and the Evening Standard, but these are all part of the domain availability PR push. It seems the natural home of business which is unique to within the M25, as well as a magnet for SMEs. The Silicon Roundabout is equally likely to snap up .London domains. However, for businesses with a broader scope, it seems unlikely that .co.uk will fall by the wayside.

As with so many business developments, .London is in a race with .NYC – a domain which has had a stop-start approach throughout its history, but now finds itself as part of the same ICANN push. It will also be competing to cut through against company specific names such as .BMW, .Toshiba, .Samsung, .Nissan, and .Suzuki – allowing for an increasing branding of the digital space which is more likely to become the norm across the digital landscape. Heritage of user online experience is likely to give .co.uk and .com usage a long tail, and many central country specific brand home sites are unlikely to make the move to new city-linked homes.  It is easy to envisage company HQs migrating their staff comms portals across, however, and CSR programmes for community outreach.

Domain development and its success will be user-driven, and this will take time to truly mature and measure. It’s a fascinating new evolution of the UK digital landscape, and I look forward to seeing how .London fares against its .NYC colleague. London’s adoption and embrace of a generic top-level domain reflects its place in the world and further reinforces its role alongside the other great cities of the world. London is a world-class city, having our own domain space reinforces its role as a leading digital destination too.

Justin Cooke is UK chief executive of Possible