You need context in order to understand the data.
But without context, it can mislead onlookers. Onlookers would think that .top is the most popular top level domain and HiChina is absolutely crushing it with new TLD sales.
Of course, insiders know the reason .top has more domains registered and HiChina is a top seller.
Consider a post on SeekingAlpha this morning titled “GoDaddy Is Unprepared For The Future Of Domain Names”.
(Upfront, I should mention that basically anyone can write stock analysis for Seeking Alpha and they get paid based on the traffic those articles drive. The person who submitted this article has only written two other articles for the site and they are about bitcoin and a South American Bank.)
The author of this article, Ben Holden-Crowther, argues that GoDaddy is overvalued. he might be correct; GoDaddys stock has been on a meteoric rise. Its market cap has ballooned from $4 billion in early 2016 to $12 billion today.
But the article’s thesis is that GoDaddy is overvalued because it’s behind the game in new TLDs. It points to the “missed opportunity” of GoDaddy appling for and selling its own top level domain names, and references the top new TLD charts on nTLDStats. Quote:
With 23 million domain names registered under these new gTLDs since 2013, the new extensions are clearly playing an increasingly important role in the success of a domain name business.
OK, there are 23 million registrations. But we all know most of those are giveaways or dollar domains. Especially the top domains on the chart.
The writer points out that Uniregistry owns and sells its own new TLDs, cutting out the middleman. Well, ask Uniregistry how new TLDs are turning out for it compared to expectations.
The author also points out that GoDaddy is #3 in market share for new TLDs. (It’s #1 in domains overall.) Missing here is that same quality question: you can be #1 for new TLDs if you focus on selling domains for pennies.
If I had to benchmark new TLD preparedness, there are only a handful of registrars I’d put at or above GoDaddy. One is Name.com, which is owned by a major new TLD registry and has a big incentive to push new TLDs.
This Seeking Alpha article is just the latest example of how people can be misled by new TLD metrics. New TLDs will continue to exist and sales of the domains to end users will continue to grow over time. But there’s a lot of noise in the numbers. In fact, I could counter the entire article by showing that new TLD registrations have dropped from a peak of about 30 million a year ago. That ignores the context, though. The reason for the drop is free and penny domain promotions being throttled back.
Context is key when it comes to domain data. Without context, we’ll continue to see articles like the one published today on Seeking Alpha.