October 19, 2014

Got .soy? Google launches .soy domain for Hispanic community

When we think of Google, we think of innovation. Google has provided the world with an amazing search engine, google docs, google drive (can't live without it), google hangouts, google glasses, google cars, and the list goes on.

And most recently Google announced the newest domain .soy for the Latino community. Google indicates on their iam.soy site that ".soy is the domain name for Latino identity and expression on the web." And according to Google, the .soy domain, which translates to "I am" in Spanish, is designed to "cater to the growing digital needs of the U.S. Hispanic market, offering brands, publishers, and consumers a place to create, collaborate and share."

There are already supporters of the new domain, including the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and you can find their site at  http://www.yosoy.soy. You can also find Republica on the .soy domain, they are an ad agency focused on the Hispanic and multicultural markets in the U.S, their new domain is: republica.soy.  But do these organizations also own their .com counterpart? It appears that the Hispanic Heritage Foundation does not own yosoy.com, but instead is owned by ISO Technologies and republica.com, it isn't owned by the Ad Agency, but instead is a newspaper in Madrid, Spain. This can be very confusing as most businesses and sites use .com.

Nataly Kelly from the Harvard Business Review blog indicates that "the Hispanic market will represent $1.5 trillion in purchasing power by 2015 and 30% of the U.S population by 2050." She recommends that if a business want to market to the Hispanic community online you will want to build a strategy and that strategy should include creating custom domains for them.

So with the Hispanic community on the rise and companies vying for for their business, businesses began creating sub-pages to market their brands specifically to the Hispanic community. And Google has now created an entire domain dedicated to our ever growing community.

This should make us feel special, but instead of feeling celebrated, I feel a bit segregated. Why do we need an entire domain for our creation and browsing. I understand that finding a unique .com is becoming difficult, but I don't know if this is the answer.

But, this is not the first time the Hispanic community saw something like this. Does anyone remember .UNO? The .UNO domain was introduced in 2013 and it is also for the Hispanic community.

Dot Latin LLC announced that ".UNO is the first global web extension dedicated to Spanish-speaking businesses, consumers and individuals online." Shaul Jolles, Dot Latin LLC CEO, said, "Hispanics will know that every site that ends with .UNO was made with them in mind; .UNO is a culturally relevant domain, easy to remember, and simple to connect."

There are a number of top-level domains other than .com, like .net and .org. When I take a look at that list I find a few spanish domain names that have been introduced in the past few years; .casa, .tienda, .viajes, .moda, and .voto. I had no idea that this many spanish worded domains existed. GoDaddy indicates that .tienda, which means "store" in spanish, is "the perfect domain for any retail business that wants to connect with Spanish-speaking consumers across the globe."

If we look even further back, in 2007, .LAT (for Latino) was a proposed domain by eCOM-LAC. Their goal? Well, similar to Google was to "identify, differentiate, and add value to Internet resources related with Latinos."  And just recently, it was finally announced and approved by ICANN. What is .LAT? ".LAT provides an online hub for the Latino community to share experiences, create forums, find foods, restaurants, and products from native countries, and join community projects to educate others about Latino culture and arts. Sound familiar? To learn the differences between .soy, .uno and now .lat will be surely confusing.

It's true, we use technology, just like other people do, and we might be one of the fastest growing demographic in the U.S, but the Hispanic population is not going to build a community around a specific domain. Hispanic communities are built on culture, family, commonalities that we share, and many other natural and organic reasons.

We build a community online using technology with technology that already exists. I have met so many wonderful people, that happen to be Hispanic or Latinas (whatever you're comfortable with), and many others with different and rich cultures on my blog, different blogs I visit, and other social media platforms.  Our community doesn't need a specific domain for websites that we visit that happen to be Hispanic.

And this begs the question, will Google create a domain specifically for other demographics?

If anything this may confuse people. I naturally am more inclined to visit a .com site than another domain. The other domains available, such as .biz or .net, have not appealed to me in the same way .com has. We all have become familiar with .com.

I am very interested to see if and how people are going to use .soy.  What are your thoughts? Do you think having a domain dedicated to an entire ethnicity is necessary?

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