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I still think emoji domains are a bad investment

My opinion hasn’t changed and here’s why.

I’ve had a few people email to ask what I think about emoji domain names as an investment, especially after domain investor Gregg Ostrick paid $11,201 for ☯.com (Punycode: xn--w4h.com).

My answer hasn’t changed since I wrote about this back in May: people are flushing money down the toilet.

With the exception of the 33 emoji domains registered in .com, people are investing in emoji domains in extensions they would never invest in otherwise, such as .ws. These emoji domains will only ever be gimmicks, especially because they render differently on various devices.

What would change my mind is if big end users started buying some of the domains that investors have picked up. Domainer-to-domainer sales don’t make a market. Eventually, they have to have demand from end users.

I don’t see that happening given the limitations of these domains.

Another warning: once domain investors go from snapping up all of the good domains in a niche to spending most of their time promoting how good of an investment that niche is, you’ve probably missed the boat.

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  1. Eric Lyon says

    I tend to agree. This emoji trend is purely novelty. There may be a very small amount of applications where some may be able to be commercialized/monetized, however, the reality is that whoever attempts that will probably fail unless they have unlimited capital to throw at marketing/advertising efforts.

  2. Dan says

    Nobody will ever be able to type in the URL what’s the point?

    Some clown out there is trying to unload .ws emoji domains for $750 and up

  3. Page Howe says

    Hello Andrew, si ill parse what you said and where i thin you can be right on the facts, but only the future will tell about your opinions

    DNW . These emoji domains will only ever be gimmicks, especially because they render differently on various devices.

    could be true, but im in becuase in a world of 300,000,000 text domains (which BTW can be rendered in different fonts) these are graphical, and are the worlds most poular language, which need no translation

    DNW What would change my mind is if big end users started buying some of the domains that investors have picked up. Domainer-to-domainer sales don’t make a market. Eventually, they have to have demand from end users.

    right, sounds like new tlds, or any other theme. But isnt this where domainers invest, wouldnt this also be true of LLL.com when you buy them at 40,000 each, or LLLL names when you pay $1500 ea. dont you also need more end users and not just domain to domainer sales

    I don’t see that happening given the limitations of these domains.

    Ok, so thats why we each play with our own poker chips.

    i get a sense you would have loved these domains at reg fee, and maybe just dont like that prices have moved to 500-700-1500 wholesale. So ill take the indictment that buying at todays prices takes conviction…. but that they well flushing money down the toilet…. available names in .ws are $ 4.99 each, so yes i can watch that go down the toilet for the upside.

    Page Howe aka the.ws

    in punycoder thats xn--the-d353b.ws

    now if most of you cant see that its becuase DNW hasnt udated to use unicode instead of ascii character sets, or you dont have the wondows 10 plugin…. allthings which can chnage for the better over time

    • jonathanrperkins says

      100% agree! Anyway I think there is a future, just needs to pan out. I think we will start seeing a white list of emoji domains in the near future. PS I sent you an email would love to connect!

  4. Jonathan Roig says

    Totally appreciate you covering emoji domains… obviously, we disagree! I mean, it’s like this: several billion emoji are being sent every day via txt from mobile phones… and you guys are like, “Emoji? They’ll never catch on!”

    Of course, there are issues with emoji domains — see the SSAC report — but they can be overcome.

    Not sure what they’re worth in terms of investments… we’re more focused on end users, so that’s not our primary concern.

    We’ve sold north of 21,000 of ’em, though, so there’s that.

  5. Anthony Mitchell says

    Driving traffic to a sub-prime domain is not impossible, especially if you have money to spend on search ads, as demonstrated by some of the paid listings that appear in search results for “crypto currency.”

    The challenge comes in having visitors make repeat visits. Here emoji domains are at a disadvantage. This limits their ability to stand alone as a brand.

    “Oh yes, xn--i-7iq.ws – such a great website with such a memorable domain,” said nobody ever.

    What is the next big thing?

    That will be determined by how domains integrate into AI-driven speech engines, which dispense with screens (and therefore emojis) altogether. We could see a return of “Real Names” but for spoken words. Or we could see domains used as commands and destinations, but with an increasing tendency to not articulate the “dot.” What we definitely will not see, or rather speak, are emojis.

  6. steve says

    I purchased several purely for fun and to use for marketing products.

    These all are .ws domains. Will I receive offers too good to refuse? Perhaps, but it’s not something I’m counting on. If they were with the .com extension, more likely, but still not high.

    So Andrew, I concur with your assessment — not great investment vehicles.

  7. John Harrison says

    I think most people jump to the either/or conclusion. Emoji domain names won’t replace the domains we already use.

    But, is there room for an additional marketing tool like this? I think so. They don’t all have to be the ‘home’ domain. Nor, the domain on the business card or in the radio advert. But, they might use it on a newsletter, a push notification, a tweet. There’s even been quite a few emoji and emoji domains used on billboards.

    Why wouldn’t marketers say I want both options because they may serve different marketing needs. These needs haven’t necessarily been met by the other ‘new trends’ in domaining like the new gtlds. Emoji offer a marketer a very different proposition. In a sea of text a colourful image stands out a mile.

    Of course, I own a fair few emoji domains so I will naturally look to their positive side. I do think all the problems people come up with for them can be overcome in time or at least have a sensible counter-argument. I gave this a good go in your last post about emoji domains.

    In defense of my colourful little friends here are a few reasons they might retain some value to marketers:

    1. Short and Memorable- When displayed as the actual emoji they can be highly memorable. Yes, there are some emoji that look the same but confusion in domains isn’t a new thing and certainly not true of only emoji.

    When the punycode is rendered, then yes, you’re not going to remember it. But, emoji integration is moving in the positive direction. I would place a bet on more platforms and software rendering the emoji correctly in the future rather than the opposite.

    When something is short and easy to type out on mobile devices I think it has a shot at being valuable. A single character emoji domain will have a good shot at being remembered. More so than a particular blog post or a YouTube link. If it can be remembered then it can be passed on.

    The other thing about emoji is that they are images which are more easily coded and therefore recalled by the brain.

    2. Engagement- Several studies on the usage of emoji in marketing material show that just the addition of them causes higher click through rates. Push notifications get 85% more clicks (Leanplum/App Annie), over 50% of brands using emoji in email subject lines get a higher unique open rate (Experian) and Wordstream found that Google served an ad with emoji in the adwords text 10% more frequently, the ad also receiving more clicks than one that did not include emoji.

    And that’s just having an emoji there. The emoji doesn’t even do anything. I would suggest that when the emoji becomes part of the infrastructure and takes you somewhere, the CTR will increase. Andrew, don’t you want to know what’s at the end of the eggplant rainbow?

    3. Popularity of Emoji- In 2015, Adweek reported 92% of online consumers use emoji. In March 2016 Appboy analysed 9400 marketing campaigns finding a 775% year on year increase in emoji usage.

    No company has forced the use of emoji and no one gets paid when they’re used. They hold an important place in our social culture and people get protective over them when representations aren’t true. (Apple changing the paella emoji to feature its traditional ingredients)

    People write analytical and persuasive papers to Unicode to get approval for say, a lobster emoji (hopefully). I think when the general public eventually stumbles on their first emoji domain it will delight them like all good products should. For that reason alone, the visibility and awareness of emoji domains should grow quickly and marketers will want to harness people’s adoration and increased usage of emoji.

    4. Conversational Marketing- While many aspects of marketing will turn to voice an equal number will turn to chatbots. Messaging apps have taken over from social media apps as those that are most used. The email inbox is not as sacred as our messaging app inbox and with Facebook opening up their API to developers the chatbot scene exploded.

    The main point here is that when marketing ‘conversationally’ the marketer needs to talk like the customer talks, that is, native to the app and in a familiar manner. I think emoji domains are highly relevant in these circumstances.

  8. Rob says

    Hi Andrew, I’ve heard of ☁️.com and .com but what are the other 31 emoji domains? Very curious! Cheers Rob

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