This is the third part of Joseph Peterson’s analysis of new TLD registrations by geography.
In 2 previous articles (here and here), we scrutinized nTLD registration volume by country, asking which nations are most / least engaged overall with the 1000+ new domain endings released since 2014. But that was only a bird’s-eye view – meaning we only looked at an aggregate of all nTLDs. Now it’s time to “zoom in” and examine which countries register which extensions. After all, to answer why they’re buying, we must look at what they’re buying.
This installment focuses on “GEO” nTLDs – suffixes that correspond to cities (.BERLIN, .NYC, .SYDNEY, .ISTANBUL); regions (.OKINAWA, .WALES, .CORSICA); or nationalities / ethnicities (.IRISH, .SCOT, .LAT, .KIWI, .CYMRU). For any study of national nTLD habits, such GEOs are an obvious place to start.
Among those domains that are available to register, many seem to be performing well:
|% of TLD|
nTLDStats, on whose data this study is based, lists the top 49 nations by nTLD volume and, for each of those countries, its top 100 nTLDs (except for the Cocos Islands, which lists only 19). Out of 389 distinct nTLDs arising in those national lists, 45 are GEOs. Hence, if an nTLD ranks in the top 100 for any of those top countries, there is an 11.6% chance it’s a GEO.
However, only 87 of those 4819 chart positions (1.8%) are occupied by GEOs. Why the discrepancy? Because GEO nTLDs are concentrated in fewer countries. On average, a non-GEO will appear on 14 country lists (4732 / 344), whereas a GEO is confined to just 2 country rankings (87 / 45).
We’d expect this. For instance, .CLUB and .XYZ have a large footprint worldwide, whereas .KOELN sees negligible participation outside Germany where Köln is located. In fact, there are 45 nTLDs so widespread that they appear in the top 100 lists for at least 40 nations; and 4 of those nTLDs rank in every country. GEOs, on the other hand, behave very differently:
|TLD||Nations||Domains||% of TLD||Participants|
|.LONDON||10||44,966||77.9||UK + 1.2% = Switzerland,
South Africa, Ireland,
|.MOSCOW||5||16,466||69.8||Russia + 0.8% = Ukraine,
|.BERLIN||4||57,370||97.9||Germany + 1.2% = Switzerland,
|.PARIS||4||19,659||89.1||France + 2.1% = Switzerland,
|.VEGAS||4||8960||72.2||USA + 0.5% = Israel,
|.TOKYO||3||16,220||32.6||Japan + 0.01% = Lithuania, Cambodia|
|3||15,601||77.3||Russia + 0.7% = Ukraine, Armenia|
|3||46,485||58.6||Russia + 1.2% = Ukraine, Armenia|
|.LAT||3||1562||62.1||Mexico + 7.6% = Spain, Chile|
|.AMSTERDAM||2||25,165||97.4||Netherlands + 0.3% = Belgium|
|.BAYERN||2||30,491||99||Germany + 0.5% = Austria|
|.CYMRU||2||5709||86.7||UK + 1.3% = Hong Kong|
|.KIWI||2||200,882||99.5||New Zealand + 0.2% = Australia|
|.VLAANDEREN||2||6432||96.6||Belgium + 5.3% = Netherlands|
|.WALES||2||10,390||84.4||UK + 0.4% = Hong Kong|
|.WIEN||2||13,597||90.7||Austria + 0.4% = Hungary|
As you can see, only 16 GEOs rank in more than 1 country. .LONDON, which has charted for 10 different countries, at first seems to have the broadest appeal. But we don’t get the full story by counting only cases where an nTLD has charted. A given extension might be widely distributed outside the top 49 countries. Or local competition may push the TLD off the top 100 list, even if that country constitutes a large slice of the TLD’s pie. Also, domains with whois privacy are excluded. For a more exact measurement of dispersion, look at “% of TLD” above.
Some nTLDs are concentrated in a single country (and use transparent whois): .RIO (100%), .KYOTO (99.8%), .KOELN (97.8%), .HAMBURG (97.7%), and .NYC (97.3%). Note: With residency requirements for .NYC, a broad country profile is impossible. Other GEOs are much more dispersed (or else use whois privacy more frequently). For instance, visible home-country registrations for .ISTANBUL and .MELBOURNE constitute only 82.1% and 84.3%, respectively. Even more extreme, .IRISH is found with Ireland listed in whois records only 51.7% of the time. For .IRISH, the remainder would belong mainly to the UK, I imagine – even though the suffix doesn’t rank among the top 100 there.
Visibility varies. Compare .BERLIN (where 97.9% of registrations can be seen within 4 countries) to .LONDON (where 22.1% of registrations remain unaccounted for despite 10 national rankings). This suggests that .LONDON may have very scattered, global ownership. Likewise, .MOSCOW (69.8%), .рус (58.6%), and .LAT (62.1%) are only partially visible in country charts. The first 2 are perhaps widely registered in former Soviet states – nations not among the most active 49.
It turns out, secondary countries contribute few registrations, amounting to 1% or more of total volume for only 7 GEOs. So, even though .LONDON ranks for 9 countries outside the UK, those other participants comprise only 1.2% of the total. Looking at the percentage of visible domains owned by minority nations, the least centralized GEOs are .LONDON (1.6%), .рус (2.1%), .PARIS (2.4%), .VLAANDEREN (5.8%), and .LAT (13.9%). Unlike city GEOs, .LAT is intended for a broad international audience of latinos. To some extent we do see diverse ownership, though Mexico alone accounts for more than half of .LAT domains.
It’s interesting to observe which minority nations participate in GEOs that don’t apply principally to themselves. Denmark buys .LONDON as a UK neighbor. Switzerland buys .PARIS and .BERLIN because both French and German are Swiss languages. Israel registers .VEGAS, thanks to cultural ties with the USA. Belgium and the Netherlands reciprocate, sharing .VLAANDEREN and .AMSTERDAM across a shared border. Ukraine and Armenia, as Russian satellites, each echo 3 Russian GEOs. Oddly enough, Hong Kong shows uncanny interest in .CYMRU and WALES – perhaps due to Welsh expats living in this former British colony.
My next article will assess how successful these GEOs have been. So far, we’ve been measuring how concentrated they are within narrow national markets. In case this has bored you, let me explain why laying such groundwork will matter later on. GEOs are an extreme case of national bias, and they give us a benchmark to measure other nTLDs against – to judge to what extent various non-GEOs (like .VIP or .FUTBOL or .XYZ or .HAUS) are skewed toward particular registrant countries. Also, the footprint of GEOs within national borders has implications for non-GEO nTLDs meant for niche communities – e.g. .LGBT and.ARCHI.
Now let me leave you with a mystery:
Something very peculiar is going on with Japanese GEOs, which are mostly missing from these 49 national charts. Very little of the ice berg is visible: .OSAKA (60.7%), .TOKYO (33.6%), .NAGOYA (33.8%), .OKINAWA (23.3%), .YOKOHAMA (29.4%). Most striking of all is .RYUKYU at just 2.6%. Why so low?
Japan itself is among the top 49 countries being tracked. And the Ryukyu Islands (which include Okinawa) belong to Japan. We’d therefore expect most .RYUKYU registrations to occur in Japan. Yet .RYUKYU isn’t found among Japan’s top 100 nTLDs. Why? This 1 is easy to understand. The 2.6% under consideration is actually due to a top-100 ranking for Malaysia. Undoubtedly more .RYUKYU domains (in absolute numbers) have been registered in Japan – just not enough to break into Japan’s top 100.
What, though, can explain the low numbers for the other 5 Japanese GEOs? Japan is shown as the registrant only 1/3 of the time in 4 of those cases! Here are a few possibilities: (1) higher whois privacy usage; (2) an owner habit of listing Japanese provinces rather than Japan proper in whois fields; (3) an inability on the part of nTLDStats to recognize designations for Japan; (4) overwhelming buyer interest in Japanese nTLDs outside rather than inside Japan. What do you think? Perhaps most puzzling of all, .KYOTO, another Japanese GEO, doesn’t misbehave. 99.8% of .KYOTO domains do show Japan in whois.
Footnote: In defining GEO nTLDs, my dividing line is somewhat arbitrary. Notably, keyword language is not a factor. Thus, despite being a German word, .IMMOBILIEN is excluded. Likewise, .GMBH (which is a German acronym) doesn’t count. From an American perspective, those are obviously German. Why set them aside? Answer: For the sake of consistency. If those German suffixes are to count as GEOs, then so must the matching English versions, .PROPERTY and .LLC. Almost every nTLD is a keyword in SOME language – and foreign, depending on where you’re located. To consider them all GEOs would be pointless. Absolutely, language and geography do interact. But I’ll postpone language until a later article.