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DOTZON Study: Digital City Brands 2021

Ranking Digital City Brands / 2021 DOTZON GmbH

DOTZON presents the fifth edition of the Digital City Brands study. After introducing the study in early 2017, DOTZON expanded further and enhanced the data to display how cities successfully use their Digital City Brands. The Digital City Brand is the digital dimension of the City Brand and mirrors the “Digitalness” of a city.

However, the Digital City Brand is much more than a mere extension of the City Brand. It plays an essential role in strengthening the emotional bond between a city and its stakeholders. The Digital City Brand provides a reliable local anchor that is opposed to a city’s constant changes and progressive digitalization. Even though the latter makes citizens independent of space and time, it causes a desire for belonging and localization at the same time. As a digital meeting place, the Digital City Brand has the power to satisfy these yearnings.

European capitals like Berlin, Paris and London were among the first to have their own Digital City Brand. Tokyo, New York, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, and other international metropolises soon joined this development. Today, most Digital City Brands have been well adopted by citizens, businesses, and the city administration. City marketers appreciate them as a valuable tool for city marketing purposes and campaigns (e. g. www.wir.berlin) and as a unique destination proposition in the global competition of places. For digitalization and smart city initiatives, Digital City Brands have become a meaningful tool as well.

The study Digital City Brands is based on analyzing the 36 cities worldwide with their own digital identity on the Internet—the so-called city top-level domains (cityTLDs). Sources for the underlying data are eight key performance indicators: The number of registered domain names, the annual sales volume, the number of active domain names, the number of pages per domain listed at Google, the number of domains listed in the Alexa and Majestic rankings, the number of domain names per 1,000 inhabitants, the gross domestic product per domain name, and a comparison between the cityTLD and the national top-level domain (ccTLD). The figures used are all from public databases and local parameters specific to a city. They specify the strengths and assets of the cities.

Digital City Brands 2021 allows a head-to-head comparison of all cities with their own digital identities. The study shows that .berlin remains unchallenged at the top, followed by .tokyo in second place and .nyc in third place. This year’s newcomers in the TOP 10 are .miami and .brussels. However, last year’s number six, .moscow, and last year’s number nine, .wien, did not make it into the TOP 10 this year.

Digital City Brands Ranking 2021

The most successful Digital City Brand in 2021 is .berlin, which at the same time is defending the top spot for the fifth time in a row. .berlin was the first cityTLD ever to be launched to the public. It ranks good to very good in almost all KPIs. Nearly 50,000 registered domain names combined with a turnover close to USD 1.9 million and a good number of high traffic domain names according to Amazon’s www.alexa.com and Majestic’s www.majestic.com ensure the top position.

.tokyo has been able to reconquer the second position. With a number of 169,814, .tokyo is the cityTLD with the most registered domain names. It counts 22 domains in the Alexa ranking and 53 domains in the Majestic ranking and has thus been able to occupy second place in this category. The popularity of .tokyo is also reflected in the category “cityTLD versus ccTLD”: Here, .tokyo performs almost as well as the ccTLD .jp.

Since its launch in 2014, .nyc has become the digital home for many New Yorkers. The American cityTLD was able to improve from fourth to third place compared to the previous year, which, among other things, is due to its top position in Alexa and Majestic: 23 and 91 domains in the top 1 million rankings speak for themselves. Additionally, .nyc is a lot more popular than the national domain extension .us, which is also evident from a total number of 63,080 registered domain names.

.amsterdam has managed to reach the TOP 10 for the fourth time. In most of the eight parameters, the cityTLDs have good averages: In Amsterdam, there are about 27 .amsterdam domains per 1,000 inhabitants, which complies with the second place in this category. The fifth place is reached by .amsterdam in the category “turnover of the cityTLD” and the fourth place in the category “gross domestic product per domain name”.

A cityTLD that improved again is .koeln. Instead of tenth place last year, .koeln is ranked fifth place this year. A number of 23 domains per 1,000 inhabitants and a convincing registration number of 25,930 domains have contributed to the good result. However, the top position is reached by .koeln in another category: The “gross domestic product per domain name” contributes greatly to the success of .koeln this year.

.miami is the cityTLD that made the biggest jump, as it was able to move up from 16th to sixth place. This strong development is due to the top position in the category “domain names per 1,000 inhabitants”: Almost 35 domains are registered in Miami per 1,000 inhabitants. .miami also has the highest rank when comparing it with the national ccTLD: There are seven times more .miami domains registered than .us domains. With these two top results, .miami was able to leave other cityTLDs far behind.

After rank eight in the previous year, .hamburg was able to move up by one place and land on rank seven this year. With more than 20,000 registered domain names, .hamburg shows a stable development in the corresponding category. The good ranking is also due to a turnover of about USD $750,000 as well as the sixth place in the category “gross domestic product per domain name.”

.london finds itself back in eighth place after an excursion to fifth place last year. The cityTLD performs well in many categories: For example, 47,122 domain names had been registered under .london by June 2021, which corresponds to the fourth-best result in this category. In addition, .london was able to generate the third-highest turnover with approx. USD $1.4 million, and to enter the third-most domains in the Alexa and Majestic rankings.

The French cityTLD .paris is represented in the TOP 10 for the second time, ranking 9th this year. It has reached sixth place in Alexa and Majestic rankings with six and 26 domains, and another sixth place in the category “annual sales volume” with about USD $650,000. In the category “number of registered domain names,” .paris reaches 18,602, accounting for the eighth place here.

Another big surprise this year is .brussels. The cityTLD of the Belgian capital improved by two places and thus established itself in the TOP 10 ranking for the first time. Contributing to the ranking is the third place in the category “number of pages per domain listed at Google”, as well as the ninth place in the category “Alexa and Majestic ranking”, with one .brussels domain listed on Alexa and 28 .brussels domains listed on Majestic. Further solid results in the categories “number of registered domain names,” “annual sales volume,” and “number of domain names per 1,000 inhabitants” contribute to the ranking.

The Ranking Digital City Brands 2021 shows the TOP 10 Digital City Brands. The comparison between years reflects the development of each city in the ranking.


The areas of digitization, e-government and smart city will continue to be among the driving forces for the development of cities. COVID-19 has helped to make deficits in digital infrastructure even clearer. As a result, these issues are moving higher up the agenda for city governments and city marketing. The infrastructure of a cityTLD plays an important role here: It enables cities to communicate with their stakeholders and serves as a digital tool for location marketing and branding.

Last year, cities already started to deepen their knowledge and experience in the field of digital branding and initiated several innovative projects like www.future.hamburg, www.bizhelp.miami or www.openresearch.amsterdam. We expect other cities to follow suit so that we will be able to present new placements among the Digital City Brands in the coming years. One cityTLD that will undoubtedly bring movement to the ranking is .zuerich: It will be launched in November 2021.

Interested parties can order the detailed study (in German) via [email protected].

By Katrin Ohlmer, CEO DOTZON

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