The riba has paid a us-based agency £126,000 at auction for the website address architecture.com.
The purchase of the generic domain signals the riba's determination to become the worldwide centre for architecture on the web (see page 28). Its us equivalent, the American Institute of Architects, uses aiaonline.com.
The current website at www.riba.net receives 700,000 visits a year and riba hopes that the move will increase traffic substantially. The cost of the new address will be met with revenues generated by selling advertising buttons on the site. The riba's commercial arm, riba Companies, has already signed up to use the links to promote its bookshop, appointment bureau and product selector. The details of the deal have not been made public.
The riba purchased the name after considering other possibilities including architects.com and architecture.co.uk.
Officials defended the purchase cost pointing out that other dot com addresses have been sold for millions more. 'Any dot com address carries a premium and last year business.com sold for $7.5 million,' a spokesman said. 'It will be the most found address in architecture and we're trying to get our message to the outside world.'
riba director general, Alex Reid, stressed the marketing value of securing the architecture.com name.'It is very costly to promote an Internet service given the huge number of websites jostling for attention. It is now quite usual to spend $10 million or more on its initial marketing,' he said. 'The purchase of a simple, descriptive domain name can clearly pay its way in reducing the need for marketing spend.'
The riba.net site will be accessible using the new site address in the next few weeks.