Novelty: 3/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains
Because standing out gets you attention ?
As part of the Emoji Domain Primer at ?.ws/primer I write a short paragraph or two on the 9 benefits that I believe give emoji domains value.
In this series I want to expand on and explore each one, opening up the potential value emoji domains might hold as marketing tools for modern businesses.
Part one discussed why being short is such a valuable benefit.
Part two looked at why emoji domains are so memorable and how this helps a business.
In this third part I’ll be discussing the novelty of emoji domains and why that matters.
Novelty can be defined as the quality of being new. It is derived from the Latin word for new, novus. As an extension, something that is novel can also be described as original, unusual or striking.
Emoji have been through the novel phase and are quite a common part of our social experience. They have expanded beyond the forums, messaging platforms, social media and smartphones in which we first became enamoured with them to live richer lives as keyrings, plushies, and jewellery.
They are adornments for, well, almost everything.
Emoji domains are yet to make that leap, remaining obscure and known to a relative few. This is likely due to the awkward way in which emoji domains are coded. They are considered Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) just as you would consider الة تصوير.ws, 相機.ws and Камера.ws internationalised domain names and are therefore encoded the same way to allow browsers and platforms to read the code and display the image.
If you had known that ? was coded using ‘punycode’ as xn — ti8h you would have been able to go to your favourite registrar and register the strawberry emoji as a domain.
Bad UI is often the flaw that holds back a new technology. In the case of emoji domains this was drastically improved when Jon Roig and the team at Domain Research Group created I❤.ws which allowed you to type the emoji directly in from an emoji keyboard and then register your new emoji domain at GoDaddy.
The simple, beautiful UI that Jon Roig created has allowed for over 21,000 emoji domain registrations through I❤ alone.
I expect this to be the turning point at which emoji domains begin taking the same leap emoji did. In 3–5 years they will be everywhere and their novelty will have worn off so it seems reasonable to suggest that a company using an emoji domain within the next 1–2 years will stand out.
The Gartner Hype Cycle which shows the consistent stages at which new technology passes through shows that when novel, a technology’s potential can become over-inflated.
The Gartner Hype Cycle as of July 2017
Emoji domains aren’t ground-breaking technology like blockchain or quantum computing but the acceptance of them will follow a similar path. When people go from seeing them as the “next big thing in domains” to “a useful marketing tool displaying characteristics no other domain can claim” we’ll start climbing the slope of enlightenment.
Novelty vs Gimmickry
Sceptics might say that emoji domains are a gimmick. I would argue that there is a very fine line between novelty and gimmickry.
Value is where the two differ.
A novelty is new and can be valuable.
A gimmick can be new but isn’t valuable.
So, an emoji domain is going to seem like a gimmick to many people at first.
They are going to stand out. But when that novelty wears off, are the owners of the emoji domain going to be left with anything? Yes, they’ll be left with a domain that is short, memorable, colourful, on more smartphone keyboards than any single language, native to messaging platforms and loved by 92% of online consumers.
But, if there’s going to be a short period of novelty, shouldn’t the smartest of digital marketers make the most of it? It’s likely that a campaign using an emoji domain run by a better known company will get media attention purely because they use emoji domains, regardless of the campaign itself.
What is the value of being novel?
The rewards of being novel can be witnessed in commercial history by looking at those companies that were first to market in their respective niche.
In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing the authors propose that,
“It’s better to be first than it is to be better”
The idea is that the first in a new market retains the biggest market share. Examples from the book extend to Coka-Cola, Heineken, Advil and Gillette.
Being one of the first to use emoji domains in a meaningful way might give you a longer term benefit from something that at first glance most people label a gimmick.
Gary Vaynerchuk has a history of taking a first mover advantage. He has learnt, and now extols, the disproportionate upside of having the humility to try something new, no matter how long it takes or how likely it is to succeed.
In 1996, he expanded his family’s wine selling business with email marketing, achieving an 80% open rate on a 400,000 person email list. That list today gets a 20% open rate, just like most people. He was early to Google adwords being the first person to purchase ads against the word ‘wine’ at $0.05 a click for a long time. The value of being first to Gary’s family wine business was the ability to grow from $3,000,000 to $60,000,000 in a few years.
Later Gary became very vocal about targeted Facebook advertising and being first to Snapchat. Here’s what he has to say about the potential of emoji domains:
To Gary’s point about not being hot on domains he’s ? % correct if you rely completely on the domain. But a smart marketing team, promoting a valuable product could put an emoji domain to very good use.
Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow would add weight to this argument by saying that modern marketers must not only market in a remarkable way, but have a remarkable product to market. An emoji domain isn’t going to make your business successful. But, if you have a remarkable product, considering what’s gone before, is an emoji domain a remarkable way to market?
I think there is a window of opportunity. Right now I would describe it as a window of greater opportunity because as companies catch on, the power of using an emoji domain in a campaign will decline just like everything else.
The novelty will wear off.
But, you’ll still be left with a language transcendent, colourful, short, platform native, memorable and graphical URL with which to catch the visual and emotional attention of your audience.