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Should businesses drop the dot com?



After years of deliberation, .au domains are now live in Australia. Should real estate businesses consider changing to the new, shorter styling?





AuDA, which manages the existing domains that identify internet addresses as Australian, has been working on launching .au direct domains – such as the ones used in the UK and New Zealand with .uk and .nz, respectively – since at least 2016.


After a long consultation process to address concerns of potential fraud risks and how their introduction might impact small businesses, the shorter domain styling has officially launched.


But it’s not open season on .au just yet. Businesses with existing .com.au and .net.au addresses have until 20 September 2022 to claim their existing domain with the shorter name.


In the real estate industry, insiders are encouraging businesses of all sizes to get in and register their hold on the new address, whether they intend to make the switch or not.


“My recommendation to agents and agencies is to secure the new domain name even if you don’t use it. It’s safer to have it than it falling into the hands of someone else. Plus, if this does become a popular domain, regardless of whether people search your site with the .com.au or the .au, your site will still come up,” commented Nic Fren, founder of Bespoke Media Group.


He’s not convinced that moving to .au should be an immediate priority for real estate businesses, given that those on the front lines might have to do some extra legwork in getting the word out about the change.


“The public is so in tune to the .com.au that it would take awhile for the .au to become as well known and agents would have to actively promote this. Something I can’t [see as] high on their priority list,” Mr Fren said.


He also noted that there could be costs and resources involved with updating marketing collateral to the new address.


“Agents would need to look at redesigning more permanent materials that show the domain name. Such as shop front windows, car wraps, banners that are out there in the community, business cards etc.


These could end up being costly exercise,” he said.


But with early adopters often proving to be the ones who come out on top in the industry, some feel that making the change may pay off for those if the direct domain catches on.


Agency HQ chief executive Mark Morrison believes it will.


“We are living in an era where everything is shortened and people are looking for speed of use. In my opinion, AU will become the dominant domain within three to five years.


It makes sense, just look at social media [handles],” Mr Morrison said.


He noted that a widespread change to .au would eliminate the confusion between the .com.au and .net.au addresses.


“It’s much easier than remembering .com.or .net – we have all had emails bounce back due to making that mistake,” he said.


For those who are eager to be out at the forefront of the change, he notes that the transition shouldn’t be too cumbersome.


“Yes, there will be an initial business cost of changing domain names, however, we live in a time where most information is digital and the change will be mainly a couple of hits on the keyboard,” he said.


This article first appeared in REB

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