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10|14|2014 11:00 am EDT

What domains can teach about brand engagement in foreign markets

by JS Lascary in Categories: New Companies, Tools

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Since the early 2000s, domain names can be registered and written in any language – for example Chinese characters are allowed in the .com namespace, 例子.com is a valid domain name. This wonderful innovation makes internet users less reliant on the English alphabet to navigate the internet – including when engaging with brands online.

As with any new technology, early adopters are often not the larger corporations but smaller ventures, one man operations and the likes. When it comes to foreign language domains incorporating brand names, this means that, unfortunately, some of them are registered to affiliate marketers and speculators unrelated to the brand owner.

From an academic perspective, this has the advantage of being a fantastic proxy to assess the viability of using brand names in different languages to engage with local audiences. The assumption here is that if a brand related domain has been registered and renewed to an affiliate marketer or any third party primarily motivated by monetization, whatever he/she is doing with the domain must be working.

The following are some of my observations on the topic :


A) Brand translations work.

It may not be practical for a brand manager to come up with translations of their brand in an effort to better engage with internet users. However, the translations may already be out there, used by native speakers on and off the internet. When a translation makes it to a domain registration, it’s a sign that its usage might be widespread.

PlayStation in Hebrew

PlayStation can be written in Hebrew like this : פלייסטיישן

Google data shows that the proportion of Israeli search volume for the keyword “PlayStation” to the Israeli search volume for “פלייסטיישן” is 10:3.

Surely, the domain name פלייסטיישן.com is registered, but not to Sony. It has been so since 2010 and it currently redirects to a one page Weebly website full of Adsense ads.


Iceberg showing the Skype brand in Russian along with some typos
Typo traffic is just the tip of the iceberg

B)Typos are a thing too.

Skype in Russian

скаип.com is a typo of скайп.com which is Russian for Skype. Despite the whois privacy, both domains seem registered to the same entity and currently redirect to an adult webcam affiliate page (NSFW). The domains were respectively registered in 2012 and 2007.

In other instances, typo domains look to mimic the visual appearance of the brand.

Viagra and Netflix


This domain resembles the viagra brand. It is registered since 2007 and currently resolves to a parked page (displaying PPC ads).


The Netflix brand name with the Spanish eñe instead of the regular “n”. This domain was registered in 2013 and currently redirects to a survey affiliate program.

The most clever cases of typo domains involve what I call “keyboard layout typos” whereby the string of characters resulting from typing an english word on a foreign language keyboad is registered as a domain name. This type of typo exists because most non english keyboard hardware come with two or more characters printed on each key, i.e. one english letter following the QWERTY layout and one character in the native language. The keyboard software is often programmed by default to allow the use of either layouts. Switching from one to another is usually a matter of one key press.

Godaddy almost in Thai

Thai keyboard layout showing a typo of the Godaddy Brand


This domain is the result of the keystroke sequence G-O-D-A-D-D-Y typed on a Thai keyboard with the Thai layout active instead of the English QWERTY layout. The domain per se means nothing in the Thai language. It currently redirects to through an affiliate link.

If anything, the existence of this domain shows that there are Thai keyboard users who could make use of a proper Thai domain to access the registrar.


B) Brand + Keyword domains are also used

The use of foreign language domains to engage with brand customers is not limited to exact match brand names. Brand + Keyword domains are prevalent as well, especially in markets with a history of online advertising and online marketing.

Forex Sale in Japanese


This domain name means “Rolex Sale” or “Rolex Purchase” in Japanese. The webpage it resolves to has a prominent affiliate link below the fold.


In conclusion, when it comes to engaging with “foreign” audiences, using a domain name in the proper language is an avenue to consider. Affiliate marketers and speculators have been doing it for years, and it seems to be successful, at least as per their standards.


About the author

JS Lascary is passionate about Internationalized Domain Names. He is a member of the Quebec Bar Association and the founder of, a brand monitoring business.

03|16|2009 01:45 am EDT

RIM Goes On Brand Protection Domain Buying Spree, Forgets A Few

by Adam Strong in Categories: Up to the Minute

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Blackberry maker, Research In Motion (RIM), recently announced their sponsorship of the upcoming U2 world tour.  So naturally what would you do when planning a massive marketing campaign tied to a huge event like this?  You do what Godaddy did !  You register all sorts of domain names. Some to use but many simply for the sake of “brand protection”.

Granted RIM didn’t go as crazy as Godaddy did but U2 fan-site tracked down 107 domains that the company registered this last week.

As Matt McGee with points out  “I think, for the most part, this is a case of CYA — cover your ass.”  . . .   We agree that this may have been their thoughts. This type of defensive registration or brand protection is smart and we feel that there will be more of this going forward.

RIM appears to use the services of Corporate Services Company whose services include being the “single source to . . . protect brands”, but it appears they may need to do more due diligence in the domain name area.  Afterall, if you are trying to “CYA” with this degree of effort, you may not want to leave yourself exposed to your brand being tarnished by more obvious domain names.

Vulgar domain names that criticize a brand such as and F*** are much more common for disgruntled users or other naysayers to register.  They also tarnish a brand much more than a domain such as would ever do even in the “wrong hands”.

Both of the above example domains were available for registration at the time of this writing and could easily be registered by an unhappy RIM customer. RIM may have held back a little compared to Godaddy’s last brand protection effort, but the company still registered a fair amount of ridiculous names and may have left out some other domains that become crucial in protecting a brand.

Disclaimer – Author, Adam Strong, is one of the founders of the domain name consulting group