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April 4, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:15am

Bupa web presence kept in good health by web domain name company

The launch of new gTLDs represented a big online challenge for the healthcare firm.

By Duncan Macrae

Bupa is a private, international healthcare company that has over 14 million customers across 190 countries. Its purpose is to provide better healthcare that helps people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

The organisation provides personal and company-financed health insurance and medical subscription products. It also runs hospitals, workplace health services, home healthcare, health assessments and chronic disease management services. It is a major international provider of nursing and residential care for elderly people. The company employs more than 62,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, New Zealand and the USA, as well as Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, China and across Latin America.


In October 2013, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced the delegation of the first new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) which will expand the existing domain name system from 22 gTLDs, such as .COM, .NET and .ORG, to 1,400 new domain endings or "strings".

The launch of new gTLDs represents a big change to the online world and is part of ICANN’s aim to create an internet that is globally inclusive of all languages and regions. For the first time, the program will enable domain endings to exist in both Latin and non-Latin scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese, Greek and Hindu, effectively opening up the internet and bringing people, businesses and communities together online.

Max Duley, ?digital standards and quality manager at Bupa’s Corporate Centre, explains what the introduction of gTLDs means for the brand: "Preparing for the new gTLD programme represents a huge amount of work for companies, with significant expense and no major advantages. In addition, most people in the public domain are still not fully aware what the introduction of gTLDs really means to the internet address system. Coverage of gTLDs in the mainstream media has been vague and general, so website owners tend to be ignorant about the potential impact of these new domain names becoming available."

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With previous domain launches, for example .XXX or .CO, Bupa has seen little opportunity for the business. However, it has registered and blocked relevant trademarks as part of its domain name policy.

In 2012, Bupa evaluated the value of applying for .BUPA as part of the gTLD programme versus the cost involved and decided against submitting an application. However, the company recognised that whilst it had no immediate intention of using new domain endings, such as .HEALTH, as part of its digital strategy, it still needed to be aware of any developments within the industry and monitor any relevant domains being registered by potential cyber-squatters or malicious users.


To help manage the introduction of new domain endings, Bupa is working with NetNames, the market-leader in gTLD services, who provide the company with regular updates on the new domain name system and any significant developments. NetNames has hosted a series of webcasts and regularly provides notifications on any industry news so that Bupa has a good understanding of the new gTLDs. NetNames also provides Bupa with a daily summary of domain names that are being registered which reference the brand name and has provided a list of suggested gTLDs that the company may want to register in the future.

Max Duley comments on how the company is working with NetNames: "The information flow from NetNames is particularly important and we are relying on the company to maintain its vigilance on the introduction of new gTLDs over the next 18 months. By keeping Bupa up to date on the new gTLD roll-out, NetNames helps make sure that we are not missing any important developments, allowing us to focus on other projects."


Bupa’s domain name policy is currently under review, and the brand has recognised that there are other things the company can do with its existing domain name portfolio before the introduction of new gTLDs. Using NetNames advice, the company is fully up-to-speed on the latest gTLD developments. As the company continues to get more senior buy-in for digital initiatives, there will be a focus on securing return-on-investment from its existing domain name portfolio and any future investment in web addresses.



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