LAS VEGAS -- Back in the 1990s, in the early days of the Internet, car dealers could have been forgiven for failing to seize on the right domain name for a website.
Even if they had known how customers would embrace online shopping, what would have been the right choice? .com? .net? .us? As fast-moving speculators snapped up favored addresses for resale, guessing wrong would be an expensive mistake.
Twenty years later, dealers have a fresh opportunity. Since last fall, a company called Cars Registry has been offering businesses the chance to buy an Internet domain name ending in .car, .cars or .auto, thanks to the creation of new suffixes by ICANN, the nonprofit that administers domain names on the Internet.
Cars Registry came to the National Automobile Dealers Association convention two weeks ago to shop its domain names to dealers. A strong domain name is easy to remember, argued Mike Ambrose, the company's COO, and there is evidence that it sends a strong signal about its owner, enticing consumers to spend more time on that company's website.
"A strong domain name is the foundation of your digital marketing efforts," Ambrose said in an interview. "Some dealers spend tens of thousands, hundreds of dollars a month just on Google AdWords, and the strength of your domain name is an indicator of how much time people are going to spend on your website."