From major brands to corner stores, businesses will continue to evolve their ‘dot-com’ strategy to include a new generation of non-traditional domain name extensions. In 2017, domain names will continue their exponential growth (over 27 million registrations since coming on the scene in 2014) and expand by more than 100 percent in 2017. Consumers will become more aware of domain names as everyday companies, brands and celebrities boost their use.

We consulted our members to get their insights and predictions for the year ahead, some of whom have worked on brand marketing strategies. Even more importantly, all of them have some key information that should help you get ahead of the curve in 2017. Read on to find out what’s in store.

1. DotBrands Moving Ever Closer to Mainstream in 2017
Even though quite a few big brands acquired the rights to use their brand name as a top-level domain extension, 2016 didn’t turn out to be the year that “DotBrands” became mainstream. Yet, things are evolving. Brands like Canon moved from Canon.com to Global.Canon and changed their entire online branding strategy. A Pay Per Click marketing study found a domain using the .com extension (www.3CaratDiamonds.com) to promote diamond jewelry cost twice as much on a CPM basis and was a third less effective in producing conversions than the new domain extension (www.3Carat.Diamonds). For brands, having their name as their extension presents tremendous flexibility, and gives customers complete trust when they visit a “DotBrand” website. With big advertisers like Nike and BWM in the game, watch for more DotBrand web addresses to appear in mainstream ads in 2017.

2. A New Year for Political Activism
In the aftermath of the2016 elections, many people are becoming more active in the political process.  We’ve already seen mass demonstrations in many cities, and this energy will turn into thousands of new candidates and action groups entering the formal processes for elections in 2017 and beyond.  Online presence will be the foundation of these efforts, and many new address options are now available—both partisan and non-partisan:Red, .Blue, .GOP, .Democrat, .VOTE, .VOTO and others will enable greater participation and impact.

3. Banking on Domain Names
Banking and insurance companies spend thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns only to use a bit.ly link or QR code as a call to action. Yet, when was the last time you were driving down the highway and remembered a tiny or full URL on a billboard? In 2017, marketers will accelerate the emerging trend of using clever, memorable domain names taking advantage of unique top level domain name extensions like .BANK.  Marketers can customize domain names either on the left or right of the dot, enabling extensions like .BANK, .INSURANCE among others, to be used in a variety of memorable combinations.

4. .Movie: Why $4b Can’t Be Wrong
Major motion picture studios used domain names for their online promotions such as the hungergames.movie. The most popular films using domain name strategies generated more than $4 billion in box office receipts. In 2017, more movie studios will use domain names as a marketing tactic is a short-cut to take eyeballs and web browsers straight to the movie campaign and product pages. Creating a clever, memorable domain name – one that leads customers directly to a product-related landing page or a microsite – cuts through the noise and shortens the path to conversion.

5. Branded Web Destinations Not Just A URL
Businesses are discovering the benefits of increased availability, memorability and specificity that new gTLDs afford. Businesses using names such as Explanatory.Video, Winelist.Consulting, Whitehat.Video, Really.Social or Sundance.Studio, have the advantage of quickly and clearly communicating what they do and who they serve to prospective customers. Perhaps the greatest market potential lies with the hundreds of millions of individuals who can connect their personal identity with an online presence that maps to their profession, interest, or social media presence. Hundreds of thousands of people have registered names like Incon.Video and PBat.Video leveraging a gamer tag to point to YouTube channel, Dana.Live for a Periscope live streaming address, Tim.Social as a more memorable Facebook address, and MikeWyatt.Attorney for the profile of a personal injury attorney. We expect this trend to grow in 2017.

At the DNA, we’re also looking forward to 2017. From business strategies to better marketing tactics, we’re excited to see how the domain name industry adapts to today’s connected consumer.

What are you looking forward to in 2017? Do you foresee any challenges for the domain name industry in the near future? Share your thoughts in the comments.