This election year has already seen a lot of news and developments related to presidential hopefuls and how they are (or are not) buying and using domain names that are relevant to their campaigns. For the most part, we’ve talked about how candidates have seemingly failed to register the most obvious domains, and how others have scooped them up and tied them to websites that don’t exactly present a flattering image of said candidate.
Donald Trump, it turns out, has taken the opposite approach, and according to his son and executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, the company has acquired more than 3,000 domains over the last few years simply to defend against “predatory people” who may try to use those names to damage Trump’s image.
While that seems like a pretty high number, according to Eric Trump, that is just the start. He claims that the company actually owns “tens of thousands” of URLs.
This is nothing new for the Trump organization. As a business, it has likely been going on for years. But now that he’s a candidate, he has stepped up the domain purchasing in an attempt to really circle the digital wagons.
What Types of Names is He Buying?
While the number of domains the Trump camp has purchased may have gone up since he announced his candidacy, many of their purchases don’t have any direct correlation to his campaign, his personality, or his policies.
Of course, his company has been quick to buy names that are insulting to his brand, such as trumpnetworkfraud.com or trumpnetworksucks.com and donaldtrumpsucks.com.
But a brand goes beyond your name. That’s why there are also many domains that are about everything from tattoo parlors to vodka. There are a couple hundred domains that include Ivanka’s name, and some that reference his trademark “You’re fired!”
He’s Not Alone
Many other politicians and public personalities have tried to build these kinds of domain walls around their brands. We’ve seen Chelsea Clinton and her staff buy up a great many names that have only peripheral relevance to her work, herself, and even her husband. The former mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg, also purchased hundreds of domain names – particularly those that had some type of insult tied to his name.
We’ve Discussed This Issue Before
In previous blogs we’ve talked about how political domain names are generally seen as a critical part of modern politics and campaigning. In general, what we’ve seen in the past is either a candidate missing an opportunity to secure an important name, or someone finding and purchasing an insulting domain name or redirecting one of those important domains to a negative website.
In general, though, the conclusion that we came to is that even if these things happen, it still requires a lot of promotional and SEO work to get the endeavor noticed.
Most of these insulting names or, in the case of Trump’s purchases, names that are peripherally related to a catchphrase, would go unnoticed by the general public. However, this is the first time it’s really been reported that a candidate was buying domains o this level.
Is Mass Purchasing Enough?
While Donald Trump isn’t the first or last person to try and protect their brand buy buying domains on this scale, the question has to be asked: is it really effective.
While buying up names like donaldtrumpsucks.com is pretty clearly a good move, the simple fact is that no matter how many you buy, there is always going to be some way that a person can – and will – use a domain name related to the situation. And it may be a way that you simply never would have considered.
For that matter, on this very website you can find domains like: votedonaldtrump.com and trumpforamerica.com. These would seem like particularly useful names for the campaign, but as of yet, no one has thought to use them.
Mass purchasing domain names to protect a brand may have long term benefits, but it is something that must be maintained over the years and consistently updated. Only time will tell if, in this particular case, it is really worth it.