How are top level domain names doing? We might soon have a way to track them.
ICANN has formed a working group to create metrics designed to assess the overall health of the marketplace for gTLDs. Preliminary documents indicate that the scope may include all gTLDs rather than just the ones commonly referred to as “new gTLDs.”
Could this be the first step toward a tool that allows ICANN to forecast future revenue? Or for ICANN to use in deciding when to open the next round of gTLD applications?
ICANN has not disclosed their long-term intentions for the gTLD marketplace health index, but they do present the reporting as being part of ICANN’s overall plan to attach Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to various operational initiatives and ICANN departments for assessing their relative health. And the name “gTLD Marketplace Health Index” suggests that the plan is to establish an index, hinting that reports may include a view into the past as well as the present for an easy look at whether things are getting better over time, or worse, or remaining the same.
Tools we can use today to assess the health of the gTLD marketplace are things like listings of recent sales and their prices, news stories about particular successes or failures with an individual name, and seeing gTLDs in use in everyday life, for example. But no one has yet (that we know of) consistently put together data from zone files and registry reports and registrar reports to paint a picture of the overall activity of the gTLD marketplace.
According to recent documents, the time frame for publishing the first report is summer 2016. A peek into the metrics named reveals that reporting will include gTLD renewal rates, average price, compliance issues per gTLD, and new registrations by geography.
Could these reports be used to assist domain investors with individual sales? Or to help us look into the future of our own portfolios? Maybe the reports will show the behavior of the China gTLD marketplace and price or demand fluctuations over time, or provide the first indications of a growing demand in India. While the real usefulness of the reports is not yet known, it is clear that they will offer more visibility into the marketplace and also give us a new perspective on the market and gTLDs.
As the domain landscape continues to broaden and mature, it makes sense that we should be able to reliably watch it grow. Whether you are among those who believe that this index should have existed from the debut of the first new gTLD in this round, or those who agree that the timing is just right, we are all on the cusp of a new way of looking at the domain marketplace.
ICANN has opened a public comment period for creation of its gTLD Marketplace Health Index which lasts until January 22, inviting all members of the Internet community to share their thoughts and opinions and ideas with ICANN as it works to develop the index.
Angie Graves is a consultant at WEB Group, Inc., and member of ICANN’s Business Constituency. She is also a member of the advisory panel developing the gTLD Marketplace Health Index.