Displaying posts under "Domain Registrars"
Between reserved domains, name collisions, premium pricing and awkward domain name registrar interfaces, it’s just a pain in the ass.
I’ve written before about how new TLDs are coming out with a whimper. They are severely handicapped coming out of the gate thanks to lack of registrar support, name collision uncertainty, poor registrar search experiences and a whole host of other reasons.
Earlier this week I wrote about my experience trying to register 17 domain names. I was unable to register most of them because they were either registry reserved or on the name collision list. Those I wanted to register had premium prices.
Since I wrote the previous post about going 0-for-17 I’ve continued to research domain names that I think make sense to register. That’s because I think you can make money buying and selling new TLDs. I want to register a select few. But I keep running into the same problems.
On the rare occasion that the name isn’t on the name collision list and isn’t registry reserved, it comes with a premium price.
If WordCab.com sold for $2,000 a couple years ago, I’m not going to pay $200/year to register Word.cab. I think it’s a very long term bet to think that Word.cab will become more valuable than WordCab.com. If it does later on down the road, how much have I spent in registration fees?
My other issue is with registrars. I primarily use three registrars for my domain names: GoDaddy, eNom, and Moniker.
Scratch Moniker off the list because they aren’t selling new TLDs yet.
That leaves GoDaddy and eNom, two popular registrars.
GoDaddy does the best job I’ve seen of laying out your options for registering new domains. For Donuts domain names GoDaddy does a nice job laying out the Early Access Program options compared to regular pre-registration.
There are two problems with registering new TLDs at GoDaddy, though. First, its prices seem to be about 25%-50% more than many competitors. Second, you may face more competition in pre-orders. GoDaddy is absolutely creaming other registrars when it comes to new TLD registrations. If you pre-order at GoDaddy you’re more likely to end up facing off against another person that pre-ordered the domain and thus paying more in an auction.
eNom has done a better job than most with search for new TLDs. But I find its pre-ordering options rather confusing.
First, I don’t see where you have options for the various Early Access Program days for new TLDs. If you search for a domain during EAP you can order it on the day you’re on, but I don’t see how you can do something like a day 5 pre-order.
Also, if you search for a domain during its EAP and you just want to place a regular pre-order, you have to go to a special pre-order page. If you search for a domain on eNom.com that’s not available yet at all, the search box will change it to a .com domain and not even link to a pre-order option.
For example, if I type thisdoesnt.work into the search box, it changes the search to thisdoesntwork.com.
Even the regular pre-orders on the special page are a bit confusing to me.
The terms state “Fees for Pre-registration will include only the registration fee. If you are not awarded the domain, this fee will be refunded.” Yet when I place a pre-order I see both a “Fee” of $10 and a separate registration fee. That doesn’t look like “only the registration fee”. Are both refundable if you don’t get the domain name?
I suspect you’ll face less auction competition at eNom than you will at GoDaddy. But here’s how eNom says it handles multiple pre-orders for the same domain:
Domains with multiple applications in our Pre-registration queue that we are successfully able to register will be awarded either by sending it to private auction to be bid on by those submitting an order, or it will be awarded on first come, first serve basis. You would be notified of the auction details by our auction platform provider should it go into auction.
Wait, so eNom will just decide later whether to send the domain to auction or give it to whomever placed the first order? That doesn’t seem right.
If someone like me, who lives and breathes domains, finds this all confusing then I can’t imagine the typical end user.
The good news is that domainers who think they have a good plan for registering new TLDs will continue to face less competition as long as the process is so hairy.
Registrars are slowly improving their search results to show new top level domain name options, but the experience is far from ideal.
Earlier this month I wrote about how domain name search at major registrars wasn’t ready for new top level domain names.
I admitted it was early, as Donuts’ domain names had just come on to the market. It represented the first batch of English-language domains to become available.
Now a few weeks later and over 100,000 new TLD registrations made, is search any better? Let’s take a look.
GoDaddy has made strides in search. On February 5th it didn’t show any suggestions related to the terms used in the search. Nor did it list any new TLDs in its suggestions.
Now the registrar is showing relevant domain names. Today I searched for “PlumbingGuru”. PlumbingGuru.com was taken, but here are the first four suggested alternatives:
I couldn’t replicate these types of suggestions with .photography and .lighting.
GoDaddy also isn’t “spanning the dot” with its suggestions. When I searched for “Fun Holdings”, one suggestion was FunHoldings.holdings, but not fun.holdings (which is available).
The search also has some difficulty parsing words to suggest new domain options. This is an age-old challenge that’s not unique to new domain names.
eNom appears to be more on top of things than other registrars.
Last time around it was showing decent suggested alternatives, although its highlighted options at the top of the page seemed to be hardcoded. Today I got the impression that these top results were somewhat based on the search term.
If I had spent $50 million on ads promoting new TLDs before they even launched, I’d sure as heck make it easy for customers to place orders on the day they launched.
Amazingly, 1&1 made it difficult to do so. If you searched for one of the new TLDs in the search box, you were told they were unsupported:
Now you can search for the domains on the main search box rather than going to a special new TLD page.
The user experience is a bit mixed. When I searched for “Baseballgame.guru”, 1&1 returned this:
It acknowledged the domain I was searching for. I’m searching from Texas, but I’m a bit confused as to why I’m being pitched .mx domain names for Mexico.
1&1 doesn’t appear to be considering search terms in suggested domains yet. When I did the PlumbingGuru and FunHoldings search, neither .plumbing nor .guru domains were offered.
Another interesting thing about their domain search: you can have any spaces. I see domain search moving from a string such as PlumbingGuru to terms such as “Plumbing Guru”. 1&1 returns an error message when you search like this.
Hover only appears to return new TLD options if you search for them, e.g. fun.holdings. “Fun holdings” did not suggest .holdings domain names.
Web.com’s registrars fall in to the bucket of “yeah, we aren’t ready for new domain names yet.” Much like 1&1 on the first day, the only way to register a new domain at NetSol or Register.com is to do it through a special new TLD page.
It’s as if some registrars had no idea new TLDs were coming.
NameCheap appears to have the cheapest overall pricing on new TLDs among the largest domain name registrars.
If you’re actively investing in new top level domain names, price is certainly a key factor for selecting a domain name registrar.
So far, these new TLDs aren’t cheap. You can register 2-4 .com domains for the same price as one new TLD in most cases. That adds up in a hurry.
I did a quick price comparison this morning on three of Donuts’ available domain names. They make up Donuts’ three apparent price tiers thus far.
I checked pricing at what are generally considered the top 10 domain name registrars, combining multi-brands (e.g. Web.com for Network Solutions and Register.com). For reseller-only services I used their retail brand (BigRock for ResellerClub and Hover for Tucows).
Here’s what I found:
* NameCheap.com was across the board cheapest on “regular pricing”.
* 1&1 has first year pricing and then ongoing pricing. The first year discounts are substantial, so if you’re trying to quickly flip domain names then this might be a good option for you.
* Web.com has a strange pricing anomaly, charging the same for all of Donuts’ domain names. This means its .holdings pricing is relatively low compared to other registrars.
This pricing is for current hand registrations of available domain names. If you’re pre-ordering, each registrar has its own pricing and refund policy if unsuccessful. Also keep in mind that some registrars are better than others at grabbing domains when they become available, and some are less likely to have competing pre-orders.
Jared Ewy and Daniel Negari fly around the track in friendly wager.
I see a lot of marketing gimmicks for domain names, but rarely write about them. This bobsledding competition (and sponsorship) involving .xyz is entertaining enough to pass along.
Here’s the background:
In addition to being CEO of .Kiwi, Tim Johnson is also the manager of the New Zealand bobsled team. Name.com pulled together .xyz, .Buzz, .Ninja and .club to help sponsor the New Zealand bobsled team.
On top of that, .xyz CEO Daniel Negari raced Name.com’s Jared Ewy in a bobsled competition. It was a friendly wager, with Negari offering to “sing the praises” of Name.com if he lost and Ewy agreeing to wear .xyz swag from head to toe if he was slower.
Here’s the pre-race set up video:
Registrar Stakeholder Group questions if Minds + Machines is complying with registry and registrar agreements.
The separation between registry and registrar is being blurred with the introduction of new TLDs. For the first time, gTLD registries can also own domain name registrars.
This uncharted territory is sure to lead to first time issues that need to get ironed out. Here’s the first major one to be raised.
The ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) is questioning Minds + Machines’ Priority Registration System and if the registry Minds + Machines is giving discriminatory access to its own registrar (also called Minds + Machines).
Domain Name Wire has obtained a letter (pdf) the group sent to ICANN contractual compliance today.
As background, the Priority Registration System allows a registrant to reserve a domain name and be guaranteed it will get it when the domain name launches. The system is enabled by Online Priority Enhanced Names database (“OPEN”).
In theory, any registrar can join OPEN and offer the service to their customers.
But RrSG argues that this isn’t exactly the case. It says that the Priority Registration System was enabled before Minds + Machines had finalized its Registry/Registrar Agreement (RRA), so other registrars were not able to join and therefore Minds + Machine’s registrar had discriminatory access.
RrSG questions if three contractual clauses are being honored:
* Section 2.9(a) of the New gTLD Registry Agreement – Registry Operator must provide non-discriminatory access to Registry Services to all ICANN accredited registrars that enter into and are in compliance with the registry-registrar agreement for the TLD
* Section 1(a) of Specification 9 of the New gTLD Registry Agreement – “…directly or indirectly show any preference or provide any special consideration to any registrar with respect to operational access to registry systems and related registry services…
* Section 3.7.3 of the 2013 RAA – “3.7.3 Registrar shall not represent to any actual or potential Registered Name Holder that Registrar enjoys access to a registry for which Registrar is Accredited that is superior to that of any other registrar Accredited for that registry.”
In reading the clauses, it seems that there might be a number of interpretations which ICANN will have to address.
Regarding the first one, if no other registrars have yet signed a R/R agreement with Minds + Machines, then is it actually discriminating amongst contracted registrars?
It seems that RrSG also isn’t sure which entity is making claims regarding enhanced access to the registry. Is MindsandMachines.com the registrar site, registry site, or both?
ICANN’s response will set precedent and may affect other registry’s launch plans.
Antony Van Couvering, CEO of Minds + Machines, released this statement to Domain Name Wire in response to the letter:
It’s clear that registrars want clarification on the rules around common ownership of registry and registrar, and we want that too, and have approached ICANN separately to ask for it. What we’re seeing now are very divergent interpretations of what the registry code of conduct really means. On the one side, registrars are concerned that registries don’t provide a commercial advantage to a house registrar — hence this letter. On the other side, some registries are refusing to provide their RRA to the Minds + Machines registrar unless we sign contracts that give them enforcement powers over their interpretation of how we should operate. We’re stuck in the middle. It seems that the only way to make everyone happy is to make everything a clone of .com, which is not what we think domain registrants want, and which is the opposite of the innovation and choice and competition that are enshrined as the core values of the gTLD program.
We value registrars commercially and have close relationships with many of them. It’s unfortunate, from our perspective, that the Registrar Stakeholder Group decided to use Minds + Machines as a test case, because it isn’t on point with regard to the bigger issue and we are confident that our Priority Reservation program is fair, fully within the rules, and is really great for customers.
We’re going to go through the usual ICANN channels to make our case, and simply note that this can’t have taken any registrars by surprise. We made a big announcement of the program at the ICANN Buenos Aires meeting, got the domain name industry press to cover it (as well as the Financial Times and others) and made every effort to sign up as many ICANN-accredited registrars as we could, including having multiple meetings with many of them at the ICANN meeting, some on the very evening we made the announcement. We have over a dozen registrars signed up, including some that voted to send the letter to ICANN.
Therefore I take this letter as a proxy for a bigger issue — that everyone, including us, is seeking clarity on how registries and registrars engage each other in this new gTLD world. We’ve already seen the vagueness lead to anti-competitive behavior from both camps and ICANN could do us all a favor by providing some guidance.”