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DOTZON Study: Digital City Brands 2022

The 2022 edition of the DOTZON study Digital City Brands has just been published. After having introduced the study in early 2017, DOTZON has mapped for the sixth year in a row how successful cities are in using their Digital City Brands. The Digital City Brand is the digital dimension of the City Brand and mirrors the “Digitalness” of a city.

The advent of the Internet was the reason why Digital City Brands came into being in the first place. Because since then, City Brands no longer had to work only in the analogue world, but also in the digital world. However, the Digital City Brand is much more than a mere extension of the City Brand. It plays an essential role in strengthening the bond between a city and its stakeholders. The Digital City Brand promotes dialogue between the city and its inhabitants, positions the city in global competition as an attractive destination, and presents local offers and services under a common umbrella.

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. Together, they count more than 165 million inhabitants and a gross domestic product of more than twelve billion US dollars.

The Digital City Brands study is based on an analysis of the 35 cities worldwide with their own digital identity on the Internet—the so-called city top-level domain (cityTLDs). Taken together, they have 40 Digital City Brands, as five of the cities operate two cityTLDs. The cityTLD .budapest is not in the root zone anymore. Sources for the underlying data of this study are eight key performance indicators: The number or registered domain names, the annual sales volume, the number of active domain names, the number of pages per TLD 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.

Digital City Brands 2022 allows a head-to-head comparison of all cities with their own digital identities. The study shows that .berlin remains at the top, closely followed by .tokyo in second place and .nyc in third place. .vegas and .wien were able to return to the top 10 ranking this year. No longer part of the top 10 is the Belgian cityTLD .brussels, as it takes eleventh place. In summary, the trend that Digital City Brands are developing very positively, particularly in Europe, has continued: Seven positions in the top 10 ranking are occupied by European metropolises.

Digital City Brands Ranking 2022

1st place

The most successful Digital City Brand 2022 is .berlin, which at the same time is defending the top spot for the 6th time in a row. .berlin was the first cityTLD ever to be launched to the public, and is operated by the Berlin-based company dotBERLIN. In most ranking categories, .berlin achieves good to very good results. Nearly 50,000 domain names are registered under .berlin, which ensure a turnover of around 1.8 million US dollars. In addition, .berlin has roughly 70 percent of actively used websites, and is represented with 57 domains in the Majestic ranking and with seven domains in the Alexa ranking of the one million most visited websites worldwide.

2nd place

.tokyo, which is operated by the Tokyo-based company GMO, was able to maintain the 2nd place. With a number of 301,577 domains, .tokyo is the cityTLD with the most registered domain names. In the Alexa ranking, .tokyo appears with 14 domains, and with 81 domains in the Majestic ranking. The extreme popularity of .tokyo is also shown in the category “cityTLD versus ccTLD”: Here, .tokyo performs almost well as the ccTLD .jp.

3rd place

Since its launch in 2014, .nyc has become the digital home for many New Yorkers. As in the previous year, .nyc has reached 3rd place. This is due, among other things, to its top position in the Alexa and Majestic rankings: 69 and 93 domains in the top 1 million rankings speak for themselves. In addition, .nyc is significantly more popular than the ccTLD .us. The high registration number of 64,120 domains contributes to the good result.

4th place

.amsterdam has reached the top 10 ranking for the 6th time. In most of the eight key performance indicators, the cityTLD achieves good average values. For example: In Amsterdam, there are about 25 .amsterdam domains per 1,000 inhabitants, which complies with the 2nd place in this category. The 6th place is reached by .amsterdam in the category “annual sales volume”, and the 4th place in the category “gross domestic product per domain name”.

5th place

Last year, .vegas dropped out of the top 10 ranking to 11th place. But now, the U.S. cityTLD was able to climb back and reach 5th place. Almost 19 domains per 1,000 inhabitants as well as more than 75 percent of active domain names are the reason for this year’s good result. In addition, .vegas is very popular compared to the ccTLD .us: In Las Vegas, it has a 333 percent higher penetration rate than .us, which is the 2nd place in this category.

6th place

.miami was able to hold its ground in 6th place this year. This stability has two reasons in particular: There are 35 .miami domains registered per 1,000 inhabitants, which is the top position in this category. .miami also has the highest rank when comparing it with the national ccTLD: There are seven times more .miami domains registered than .us domains. Other solid rankings contribute to the 6th place.

7th place

.koeln has dropped two places and is now in 7th place. A number of 19 domains per 1,000 inhabitants and a convincing registration number of 20,916 domains justify .koeln’s position in the top 10 ranking. However, the top position is taken by .koeln in another category: The “gross domestic product per domain name” contributes greatly to the success of the German cityTLD.

8th place

The French cityTLD .paris was able to improve its ranking by one place compared to last year and is thus represented in the top 10 ranking for the 3rd time. It has reached 7th place in the category “number of domains listed in the Alexa and Majestic rankings”, with six and 26 domains. In the category “annual sales volume” it has reached 4th place, with roughly 770,000 US dollars, and 8th place in the category “number of registered domain names”, with 22,556 domains.

9th place

.london find itself in 9th place, after an excursion to 8th place last year. In some categories the cityTLD performs quite well: For example, there were 38,582 domains registered under .london by May 2022, which is the 4th-best result in this category. Also, .london was able to generate the 3rd-highest turnover with approx. 1.2 million US dollars. It has also reached 5th place in the category “Alexa and Majestic rankings”, with 13 and 73 domains.

10th place

After 7th place last year, .hamburg has now landed in 10th place. Along with .berlin and .koeln, .hamburg is one of three German cityTLDs in the top 10 ranking. With more than 20,000 registered domain names, .hamburg shows a stable development in the corresponding category. The satisfactory result is also due to a turnover of about 759,000 US dollars as well as the 5th place in the category “gross domestic product per domain name”.

The Australian cityTLD .wien was able to rise from 12th to 10th place, and is thus back in the top 10 ranking. The 10th place, which .wien shares with .hamburg, is mainly due to the 6th place in the category “Alexa and Majestic rankings” as well as a solid turnover of about 450,000 US dollars. A number of 16,448 registered domains contributes to the result.

Outlook

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 highlight the deficits in digital infrastructure even more. As a result, these issues are moving higher up the agenda for city governments and city marketing. The infrastructure of cityTLDs plays an important role here: It enables cities to communicate with their stakeholders and serves as a digital tool for location marketing and branding.

Numerous examples show how cities use their Digital City Brand for event communication: In New York, the NFT conference finds its digital home at www.nft.nyc. The Berlin music festival “Tempelhof Sounds” can be found online at www.tempelhofsounds.berlin. Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, cities have also started to increasingly use their Digital City Brands to revive the local economy. In London, www.business.london promotes local support. Donations for local businesses are being collected in Miami at www.raiders.miami. And Sydney presents current offers at www.study.sydney to attract students.

We expect further cities to (increasingly) start using their own Digital City Brand for years to come so that we will be able to present new placements. Especially .zuerich and .stockholm have the potential to shake up the ranking in the near future.

The study is availabe for download, interested parties can order the detailed study incl all KPI tables (in German) via [email protected]

By Katrin Ohlmer, CEO DOTZON

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