Introducing a Top-Level Domain for NYC

The Challenge

The .nyc web address is part of a new generation of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that are expanding the web's current domain extension system. The City of New York is one of the first cities in the country with a top-level domain of its own. The .nyc web address aims to support local businesses, organizations and residents. Our team was asked not only to launch the .nyc domain extension, but also to create an accompanying brand that represents the City and its people, all while raising awareness and inspiring New Yorkers to purchase this new product.

Our Insight

The first step was understanding our target audience. New Yorkers are a diverse group, so we reached out to everyone from business owners to tech bloggers to fashion icons to find out how people felt about the .nyc domain. Through our research, which included conducting interviews and creating representative target personas, we found that the City plays an integral role in a New Yorker's sense of accomplishment and identity. We also discovered that people see owning a .nyc domain as a way to tell the world they've made it. Available exclusively to residents of New York's five boroughs, a .nyc domain identifies you as part of the City, officially. It's a badge of legitimacy, exclusivity and true NYC status - because only New Yorkers can Own It.

Activating Brand Advocates and Influencers

We focused our campaign around the “Own It” idea, capturing the confident, entrepreneurial spirit of New Yorkers and encouraging them to make the City part of their story. We knew that in order to win the trust of New Yorkers, the message would need to come from other NYC locals. So we reached out to people working in diverse industries, from tech to marketing to hospitality. These New Yorkers became our fifty .NYC Founders, a group of valuable brand advocates. By providing our Founders and other connector groups (like NYC Tech Meetup and various business improvement districts) with toolkits and info, we were able to leverage their influence and spread the word about the .nyc domain.

Building Awareness and Anticipation

As we got closer to launch day – the day when .nyc would become available to all New Yorkers – we ramped up our social media engagement to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity around the .nyc domain extension. Our social campaign celebrated important milestones in NYC history through a 10-day countdown and encouraged New York residents to prepare to “Own It” by searching for their favorite domain names.

By promoting the stories of our Founders, we gave the .nyc brand credibility and inspired New Yorkers through the Founders’ examples. Building on those examples, we also helped people imagine the possibilities for their own .nyc domain names. In addition to social, our campaign extended to print ads, emails and out-of-home placements, including bus shelters, street pole banners and newsstands.

Celebrating Launch Day in NYC

By the time launch day arrived, there was lots of hype throughout New York City about the .nyc domain extension. For the official .nyc launch, we orchestrated an all-day event at Flatiron Plaza in NYC. The event included musical performances by some of our Founders, .nyc-branded giveaways and a street team to help spread the word.

Wrapped taxis, which were co-branded with our registrar partners, gave free rides to New Yorkers and even allowed passengers to purchase .nyc domain names from right inside the cabs. The day culminated in a press conference, featuring some of the City’s biggest players, to announce that .nyc was now officially available to all NYC residents and business owners.


After launch, the .nyc domain extension experienced the fastest growth of any location-based gTLD to date. With over 50,000 domains sold in less than a month, .nyc lived up to the hype. In addition to all those sales, the brand received over 2.7 million paid media impressions, with a 15.4% media conversion rate. The .nyc domain was widely covered in press and media outlets, including New York Magazine, USA Today, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Advertising Age, The Village Voice and Gothamist.