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Is a DotHealth Domain For You?

Research Analyst

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There’s a .edu for educational institutions, a .org for noncommercial organizations, and even a .dating for relationships sites - now, healthcare will get to stake its claim to the internet with the new .health domain launching this year. We’ve got everything you need to know about your new internet neighbors.

The domain, operated by dotHealth LLC, is intended to be the new online destination for health products, services, and information online. The company’s vision is to provide a way for online consumers to identify credible health information, whether it be from hospitals, associations, payers, pharma, or any other health-related body.

“In today’s digital health landscape, it can be difficult to find credible health information. .health is designed to eliminate confusion and uncertainty by providing an instantly recognizable address that makes it easier for users to find the reliable, relevant information they need for a healthier life.” – dotHealth LLC

Access to these domains is being rolled out in three phases in 2017:

Sunrise Period
Ended July 7th
Only entities that hold an existing trademark with the ICANN Trademark Clearinghouse are eligible to claim the domains associated with their trademarks.

Industry Access Period
July 20th – Nov. 30th
Qualified health industry organizations, which for dotHealth LLC includes everything from Payors to Health tech companies, can apply for access during this period.

General Availability
Dec. 5th
After this point, registration will become open to the general public. There is no pre-screening process for registrants, but dotHealth LLC claims that they have policies and monitoring practices in place to police the legitimacy of these sites.

The .health roll-out timeline

THE BIGGER PICTURE

The new .health domain is part of a program launched in 2012 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to expand the global domain name system by introducing new generic top-level domains or gTLDs (i.e., a fancy term for the last part of a website URL).

The ICANN received almost two thousand applications for new domain names, of which 1,220 have already been introduced to the internet.  These include things like .press, .radio, and .city – but also .party, .dog, and .vodka – so it appears that ICANN is not particularly choosy about the kinds of new domains that it will ratify. 

ADOPTION OF NEW DOMAINS

But will the almighty .com ever bow to these new entrants to the internet arena? While Google claims that the type of gTLD used will not impact their search algorithm, the majority of businesses have been hesitant to adopt these new domains, even in other industries where online credibility is key.  The domains .foundation and .financial have over 8,000 and 5,000 registrations respectively, however over 60% of these are “parked domains” – meaning the domain name is registered, but there is no website or email associated with it. It seems that many organizations may be purchasing their brand’s domain name to prevent squatters from snatching them up, rather than for the purpose of actually using the site at this point.

According to the ICANN Wiki, the .health domain currently has 819 registered names (a few days into the industry access period), over 50% of which are parked. Some big brands have already registered their domains, including:

There are other health-related domains that have been created as well: .doctor, .clinic, and .pharmacy – each with fewer than 3,000 active domains currently.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR BRANDS?

It’s hard to tell at this stage whether this new crop of diverse domains will be adopted by the digital public and become a mainstay of the internet. Pricing for .health sites will vary between domain registrars, but typically the costs of these new speciality domains are 2-4x higher than your standard .com domain. For some, it may still be worthwhile to scoop up relevant domains for contingency.

If .health does start to gain traction, a key indicator of its success will be whether users do indeed associate it with credibility. While we hope that dotHealth LLC will be monitoring registrants closely, there is little detail available about how they plan to do this. But if they are successful, a marker for credible health information online could be a very valuable thing for brands, particularly in the unbranded space.

If you’re interested in claiming some space on .health, we recommend doing so before the Nov. 30, deadline before it opens up to the public.

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