Home / Blogs

Making Sense of the Domain Name Market - and Its Future

Kieren McCarthy

With ever more TLDs, where does it make sense to focus resources?

After four years and a quadrupling of internet extensions, what metrics continue to make sense in the domain name industry? Which should we discard? And how do you gain understanding of this expanded market?

For registries, future success is dependent on grasping the changes that have already come. For registrars, it is increasingly important to identify winners and allocate resources accordingly. The question is: how?

The biggest barrier to both these goals, ironically, may be the industry's favorite measure: the number of registrations.

Since the earliest days, registrations have been the main marker of success: Who's up? Who's down? Who's in the top 10? Top five? But even when this approach made sense, it relied on ignoring the elephant in the room: dot-com.

The Verisign dot-com beast remains six times larger than the next largest TLD. But, for a long time, the fact that most of the other gTLDs and ccTLDs (and even sTLDs) were clumped closely together made registration figures the go-to metric.

Except now, in 2017, the same extreme of scale as dot-com to the others now exists at the other end of the market. There are more than a thousand new gTLDs in the root, but even the largest of them barely touch legacy gTLDs or ccTLDs in terms of numbers of registrations. It may be time to rethink how we look at the market.

Another traditional measure has been the number, or percentage, of parked domains. It used to be that if a domain owner wasn't actually using their domain to host a website, it was a sign the registration was more likely to be dropped or was purely speculative.

But do parked domains still tell that story? That parked domain is often intellectual property protection. It may be part of a planned online expansion. And while assumed to be speculative, often that parked domain is renewed again and again.

This is especially true with older registries. You could argue that in terms of a registry's inherent value, a parked domain that is held by a single owner for many years is more valuable than one with a website that changes hands every year.

Maybe we need to consider more than just whether a domain has a website attached and start digging into the history of its registration.

Intertwined

The truth is that the domain name market has been around for a relatively long time now and has become more complex and intertwined with the larger economy than we give it credit for. The market is also unusual in that it has not grown according to demand but in fits and starts, defined by and dependent on the arcane processes and approvals of overseeing body ICANN.

Dot-com is the giant of the internet because it was the only openly commercial online space available at a time when the internet's potential was first realized by businesses and entrepreneurs. Even now the ending ".com" in many ways defines the global address system. While its growth has slowed, it still towers over every other TLD.

Then came small bursts of new gTLDs, joined by more commercialized ccTLDs, which all benefitted from the globalization of the internet. Most of them are roughly the same size: between two and five million registrations. And now comes the new wave of TLDs that has produced a third block of registries: with registrations largely ranging from one thousand to one million.

These three-time periods tell a story about the domain name market: that for all its fluidity and its speed, the market is not only stable but also segmented. There is no point in Germany's dot-de dreaming of becoming the same size as dot-com, just as there is no point in dot-shop hoping to rival dot-fr in terms of numbers. Increasingly, peer comparison is going to become more important than pure numbers.

It's also not clear that there is much competition across segments — or even within them - once that initial purchase is made.

Will someone drop their dot-uk domain after they've bought their new dot-website domain? It seems unlikely. A tech business in Spain may look at a dot-es or a dot-tech. But it probably never considered Brazil's dot-br, or dot-racing (because it is a Spanish tech company, not a Brazilian racing company).

Once the decision and purchase are made, the website built and the email set up, the low cost of domain renewal reduces the likelihood of a company dropping it or moving to a new address. It is another of the peculiarities of the market: low price equals less movement. But even that is now being tested by new registries that charge variable "premium" rates for what they believe are more valuable individual names.

The secret of success

For these reasons, future success — for both registries and registrars — mostly likely lies in two things: high rates of renewal and future growth potential.

The domain renewal rate is increasingly a sign of the overall health of a registry. As the market changes, both that rate and any changes to it will become increasingly important in understanding whether the registry is going up or down in the market overall.

A high renewal rate shows stability and greater value in the registry. If that renewal rate goes up — compared to its peers — then the competition has picked off what it can. If the rate goes down, it may be vulnerable to other options in the market.

The renewal rate will tend to be higher and more stable in older TLDs, and lower and more varying in new gTLDs. But when compared to its peers, it can tell a larger story: too low or too variable may be a warning sign; higher or more stable could indicate a more solid registry, and one worth investing in.

The other biggest driver for success is future growth potential. And for this, it is necessary to look outside the domain name market to the real world.

When it comes to the wealth of new gTLDs — most of which are words or names that self-define themselves — growth potential is going to come down to a combination of brand, good policies and sheer luck.

The focus on registration numbers obscures what may be the long-term successful approach in this vast market. In some cases, aggressive, short-term marketing and low pricing has seen huge, sudden increases in registration followed by equally huge drop-offs a year later when domains come up for renewal. The largest registries in terms of numbers are also notable by their effort to tap the vast Chinese internet market. It's an approach that currently pays off in terms of registrations but is it sustainable?

Politics

As for more traditional registries, future growth depends as much as digital economies and politics as it does on internal policies. Germany's dot-de and the UK's dot-uk have long led the market in terms of registrations. It just so happens that they also have open registration policies and their associated countries have very large and successful digital economies.

A registry that may be interesting to watch is dot-eu since it represents not a single country but an economic region. Recent anti-European Union sentiment that has been most strongly defined by the UK and Brexit and the collapse of the Greek economy — but which has also seen large movements in Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy, among others - has seemingly slowed dot-eu's growth.

But despite last year's predictions, the European Union appears to have emerged stronger and, thanks to the unpredictable nature of the US presidency, its trading currency, the euro, is on the path to becoming the world's strongest currency. Does this mean that dot-eu will similarly benefit as companies see the growing value in a European trading block? We will have to see. But if broader sentiment is increasingly pro-EU then the answer is almost certainly yes.

In a world where you can choose from a huge array of internet extensions, new registrations will increasingly reflect what the registrant wants to say about themselves: who is their market? Are they are a traditional or unconventional business? Are they defined by their product, or their country, or their region? Or are they trying to trap the online zeitgeist and ride the wave of a current trend?

For the domain name industry, it is going to be increasingly difficult to track the ebs and flows of this global market. Which makes choosing the right metrics all the more important. Is it time to kill off the number of registrations as the industry's main measure of value? No. But it is time to start rethinking about how that market is segmented and take a broader view of what represents success.

By Kieren McCarthy, Executive Director at IFFOR; CEO at .Nxt
Follow CircleID on
SHARE THIS POST

If you are pressed for time ...

... this is for you. More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Vinton Cerf, Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

Share your comments

Registration volumes Jean Guillon  –  Sep 05, 2017 11:49 PM PST

We track them here according to categories (businesses, groups, etc...). Recently, we added a report entitled "Multiple Registries", tracking registration numbers according to group of Registries operating 5 TLDs and more. If a group is missing, we 're happy to add it.

Usage not Parking! John McCormac  –  Sep 06, 2017 7:15 AM PST

Interesting post, Kieren,
Looks like you've been reading some posts from ICANN CCT/MHI and ALAC mailing lists.
Remember that old expression that amateurs talk tactics while professionals study logistics? With the domain name industry, substitute "Usage" for "logistics". Usage plays an important part in whether a domain name is renewed. A domain name with a developed site is more likely to be renewed because the registrant has an investment greater than just the registration fee in the domain name. They may also be using it for e-mail or other services.

The ICANN CCT-RT has been trying, and failing, to understand how domain names are utilised with its "parking" paper. TLDs do not exist in isolation and this is more obvious when usage in a country level market is evaluated. The ccTLDs and the .COM tend to dominate the country level markets and the ccTLD generally becomes the first choice TLD for most registrants once the market matures.

With web usage metrics, there are two major trends in any TLD. The first applies to the characteristics of the domain names that are renewed. Thinking of them in terms of "content" and "no content" (and excluding redirects for the moment) is one way to deal with it simply. The domain names with content tend to renew at a higher rate than those without content. With the domain names that do not renew, the speculative and undeveloped domain names tend to drop at a higher rate. The highly speculative registrations, especially in new TLDs, do not renew well.

The Chinese market, especially in the new gTLDs, is quite speculative and the registrations tend to be one year wonders. This kind of speculative activity is common in an early phase market. Some of the registrations in the new gTLDs have been driven by discounting and that results in Boom and Bust registration patterns. The classic example is the XYZ 1 cent promotion where millions of domain names were registered and millions of these domain names subsequently deleted. Some of the gTLDs with significant Chinese market exposure also show similar low renewal rates. The usage patterns on Chinese dominated TLDs are also quite different to those seen in Western market TLDs.

The .EU ccTLD is more dependent on brand protection registrations than register-to-develop registrations. This is not necessarily a bad thing for a registry as those brand protection registrations are incredibly sticky in terms of renewals. However, the ccTLD has plateaued in the Western EU countries and a lot of the growth is coming from the Eastern EU countries where it is almost an alternative for .COM TLD. The mistake people make about the .EU is in looking at it as a single TLD when it is really a set of country level markets. These country level markets are dominated by the local ccTLDs and .COM TLD and .EU rarely gets more than 5% of the domain name market share in those countries.

The renewal rates in some of the new gTLDs are terrifying. Some months see rates below 10%. But there are some new gTLDs that have renewal rates approaching the ccTLD registries (Over 70% on new one year registrations.)

Besides high rates of renewal and future Alex Tajirian  –  Sep 06, 2017 10:03 AM PST

Besides high rates of renewal and future growth potential, you must consider future prices.

Lots of sense talked here. I look Kevin Murphy  –  Sep 09, 2017 1:20 PM PST

Lots of sense talked here. I look forward to the next in this series of articles.

My comments are only on:For registries, future Alex Tajirian  –  Sep 10, 2017 11:01 AM PST

My comments are only on:

For registries, future success is dependent on grasping the changes that have already come. For registrars, it is increasingly important to identify winners and allocate resources accordingly. The question is: how?

For any business, future success requires a “grasp the changes that have already come.” Success also requires quantitative analyses of success and failure factors of the existing registries. For registrars, trying to identify winners and losers can be futile. If it were easy, there would be no losers. Thus, registrars need to adopt a portfolio management approach. Better management leads to higher profits. (Some of the registries adopted such an approach to new gTLD selection.)

Good article."Another traditional measure has been the Priscilla Felicia Harmanus  –  Jul 13, 2018 3:48 AM PST

Good article.
"
Another traditional measure has been the number, or percentage, of parked domains. It used to be that if a domain owner wasn't actually using their domain to host a website, it was a sign the registration was more likely to be dropped or was purely speculative.

But do parked domains still tell that story? That parked domain is often intellectual property protection. It may be part of a planned online expansion. And while assumed to be speculative, often that parked domain is renewed again and again.

This is especially true with older registries. You could argue that in terms of a registry's inherent value, a parked domain that is held by a single owner for many years is more valuable than one with a website that changes hands every year.

>>>>>> Maybe we need to consider more than just whether a domain has a website attached and start digging into the history of its registration. <<<<<<<
"
One of my video's I have recorded:
Gnulinuxwindows source - blaricum - whether a domain has a website attached and start digging into the history of its registration''

update from previous link Priscilla Felicia Harmanus  –  Jul 13, 2018 6:54 AM PST
It's the Start of the Ending - It's the Beginning of the End Priscilla Felicia Harmanus  –  Sep 20, 2018 9:10 PM PST

My name is Priscilla Felicia Harmanus, born in the Netherlands. I am from 1993, that makes me 25 years old.

That also means that I have not experienced the era in which the World Wide Web originated.

Until I met a neighbor with a linux computer and then runs Windows and Ubuntu on it.

Since then I started a project. And the project is called Gnulinuxwindows.

Gnulinuxwindows stands for
gnu linux windows
gnu/linux linux/windows
gnulinuxwindows

White hat - Gray Hat - Black Hat

A person with a good heart is wearing a white hat. A person with malicious intentions wears the black hat.

In other words
White hat hacker - gray hat hacker - black hat hacker

GNU stands for white
Linux stands for gray
Windows stands for black

So, linux stands for gray. Gray hat.

This means its either gnu/linux or linux/windows, right.
The claim of what is ethical versus not ethical probably depends upon which side the individuals making these calls reside.

That neighbor with that linux computer and than runs ubuntu and windows on it has experience with dial-up. That neighbor with that linux computer and than runs ubuntu and windows on it has experience with DOS. He has experience with Bulletin Board Systems. Has experience with Windows and Linux.

And with linux he has more than 10 years experience.

However,
if a linux user does not know any other linux users, why does he use linux?

He uses linux because of free beer.  And I will do the speech. Right.

There was once a time when people had a home server, beginning of the internet.

People uploaded their private files on their server that were not actually intended for the internet.

But sometimes it was discovered by others. Others like him. That neighbor with a linux computer and than runs Ubuntu and Windows on it.

And then you have two choices. Literally.

You can let the person - where you discovered his private files - know that you have discovered them.

Or you do not and you keep it to yourself.
And then you look for more private documents.

He did that. That neighbor with that linux computer which then windows and Ubuntu on it. He kept it to himself and did not let the man know that he had discovered his private documents on his home server.

Evidence can be heard on the audio. Subtitle in English is Available.

I am involved in a gigantic transformation and I need a new network of people about subjects that an average person does not know about or isn't aware of.

First of all to avoid confusion, it might be useful that I say that I have access to the owner's computer. That neighbor with that linux computer and than runs ubuntu and windows on it.

Secondly when landing on a project like this, I advise you to view its section glossary also

Last but not the Least, You Are Here Perhaps Because:

You and I know each other
You are familiar with linux and windows (linux/windows)
You are familiar with GNU and linux (gnu/linux)
Blaricum is your birthplace or username

1. Blaricum is a place and municipality in the Dutch province of North Holland and part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. The municipality has 11,093 inhabitants [31 may 2018, source CBS] and has an area of 15.59 km².

blaricum liked this
2. The date of birth is the place where someone was born. Place of birth (POB) or birth place.

blaricum hacking compilation

blaricum likes this
3. What is a username?
A username is the name that a user enters when creating an account to be able to log in again and be recognized by the website. Usually a secret password is entered for a user name ...
.
blaricum reblogged this blaricum liked this
On websites where users can actively participate (discussion forums, blogs, game sites or chat programs), people speak of a nickname.

4. Take blaricum as an example [tool https://instantdomainsearch.com/#search=blaricum]
.
view list of Internet top level domains https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains
5. blaricum.nl where blaricum is a domain and .nl a top level domain just like .com .net .org .info .eu .estate .club .biz .me .mobi
.
And a thousand others extensions!

blaricum compilation parked domains
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NknqO1z16so

Bless, it would be nice to see some reaction..
And for any suggestions your mail can be send to

com@seks.business
support@gnulinuxwindows.org

Thank you
Gnulinuxwindows open.vs.closed.software

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related

Topics

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

IP Addressing

Sponsored byAvenue4 LLC

New TLDs

Sponsored byAfilias

DNS Security

Sponsored byAfilias

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign