Awareness still a challenge for new top level domain names

Even at a webhosting conference…

Leaders from five domain name companies took the stage at yesterday’s WorldHostingDays conference in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

The most interesting moment was during Q&A. Someone in the back of the room said he’d never heard of .Club before, and registered a few domains during the session. He had a question about an error message he got from a registrar about not being able to register a domain name — it sounded a lot like this 1&1 “illegal” message. Click here to continue reading…

How .Realtor quickly became one of the most used new TLDs

Easy-to-create starter sites fuel early usage of domain names for Realtors.

.RealtorAbout four weeks ago, the National Association of Realtors released the .realtor domain name. Ahead of the launch, I called it one of the most important launches in the nascent new top level domain name program.

.Realtor has quickly shot up to the #4 spot of new top level domain names with about 85,000 domain names in the zone file.

Much like #1 (.xyz) and #2 (.berlin), its success has a lot to do with giving domain names away for free. National Association of Realtors (NAR) is giving up to 500,000 addresses away for free for the first year; others cost $40.

But there are some key differences with .realtor, and why I think it has done a lot to move new TLDs forward as a whole.

First, although most of the registrations were free, Realtors had to actually register them and were limited to just one for free. This means that 80,000 people are now more aware of what’s right of the dot. In other words, they understand a bit more about what a new TLD is.

Second, .realtor has quickly become one of the most “used” top level domain names.

I spot checked a random group of 50 .realtor domain names in the zone file. 46% of them resolved to a website, including forwards. The rest were parked. That’s a pretty good number.

.Realtor achieved this by making it really simple to set up a starter site. Through a partnership with, agents could click a few buttons to set up a basic page with their contact info, bio, and listings. Here’s an example.

True websites? Maybe not. But it’s a step toward getting indexed. It’s also a web address that a Realtor could give to a client or put on their business card.

That moves new top level domain names forward…one impression at a time.

.NYC one of five top level domains launching this week

.NYC launches this week and Donuts’ well runs dry.

.NYCIt’s time for the weekly overview of new top level domain names coming out this week.

It will be brief, as just five are on the docket as best I can tell. But one of them is certainly big.


I think .Desi (definition) went live today. It’s hard to tell, though, since has basically no information on it.


.NYC will launch to great fanfare on Wednesday. This is a big test for geographic top level domain names, especially ones with restrictive registration policies. More on that later.

Also on Wednesday, Donuts releases .city at regular prices.

It doesn’t launch a domain in Early Access this week. This is the first week since Donuts started rolling out TLDs in January that it hasn’t had a new one to release.

Rightside launches .lawyer and .attorney on Wednesday. I’d imagine if you buy one, you should probably buy the other, too.

An important lesson in pre-ordering new top level domain names

Hint: don’t count on just one registrar.

Registering domain names under new TLDs when they hit the market is similar to dropcatching expired domain names. From the registrar’s perspective, it involves prioritizing domains and hitting pinging the registry as quickly as possible.

Some registrars are better than others at this. There’s some general know-how involved, plus a lot of technology. Registrars will also perform differently with different registries based on their systems and where they are located. Results will also depend on how many domains they’re doing after.

So with that caveat, I’m going to show a little bit of data from .xyz.

I pre-ordered 15 .xyz domain names at GoDaddy. I’m not going to expose the actual domain names, but they’re all keywords that would sell for at least six figures if they were under .com.

Here’s who “caught” the domain names:

GoDaddy 5
Hexonet 4
eNom 1
Host Europe 1
Network Solutions 1
United Domains 1

Let me start by pointing out that I have no idea if there was competition for the five domain names GoDaddy caught. I also don’t know how many of these domains were pre-ordered at other registrars. A heads on comparison would require pre-ordering them at all registrars. You can’t look at this data and say eNom (for example) sucks. It’s possible it caught the only domain of the 15 that was pre-ordered there.

Now add up all of the domains and you’ll notice there are just 13. That’s where things get strange.

About 90 minutes after the initial launch I noticed that Uniregistry was offering .xyz domains for $8.88 each. That’s a lot less than the $13-$15 other registrars were charging. So I went to Uniregistry to try to register some of the domains that I didn’t pre-order at GoDaddy. I plugged my entire list into the bulk search (Uniregistry has great bulk search, by the way) and noticed that two domains showing as available were ones I pre-ordered at GoDaddy.

I figured this was an error. After all, I had just tried to register a few “available” .xyz domains at Uniregistry only to find they were registered by the time I checked out.

But I checked out, the domains showed up in my account, and I verified my ownership in whois.

Let me be clear: 90 minutes after .xyz general availability opened, I was able to go to a registrar and hand register two domains I had pre-ordered elsewhere.

This suggests to me that something went horribly awry with the pre-orders at GoDaddy.

Whatever happened, there’s a lesson in this: Pre-order at more than one registrar.

New TLD registries need to forget about sunrise revenue

New top level domain registries need to scratch the sunrise line item off their P&Ls.

I think many observers are surprised by the low number of trademark sunrise registrations in new top level domain names so far.

Calzone, a calendar for new TLD rollouts, has put together some numbers and analysis on sunrise periods so far.

The net-net is that sunrises so far have averaged between 100-200 registrations. That’s about 1% of how many sunrise registrations .co received in 2010. Even .Co received fewer sunrise registrations than previous launches such as .asia, .mobi, .eu, etc.

There are a number of reasons other registries might be able to get more sunrise registrations than Donuts, which has launched the bulk of domains so far.

1. Donuts offers a system-wide trademark block. I suspect about 500-1,500 of these blocks have been placed. While the block customers might not register their domains in every TLD, certainly not having a block option would have led to more one-off sunrise registrations.

2. It’s still early and trademark holders are belatedly learning about new TLDs and brand protection mechanisms. Some are registering domains in general availability that could be registered in sunrise periods going forward.

3. More general TLDs might get more sunrise registrations. Niche domains will attract industry participants, e.g. clothing brands for .clothing. Generic domains like .xyz and .site might attract a broader range of sunrise registrants. Conversely, it’s possible that niche domains will end up getting more sunrise registrations because brand holders in the specific industries will be more aware.

4. Some of the more controversial TLDs are likely to get more sunrise registrations. Remember that .xxx received 80,000 blocking registrations.

Still, it’s clear that sunrise won’t be a big revenue driver for most TLDs. I think many brands have figured out they need to change their approach to cybersquatting. They also realize cybersquatting won’t be that big of a deal in new TLDs.

I know that many registries were counting on sunrise numbers similar to previously launched domain names. Comparing anything from previous rounds of TLD expansion to this one is clearly a mistake.