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A Snapshot of the Domain Industry in 2023

As the world exits the pandemic, it faces geopolitical conflicts, inflation and economic challenges. The Global Domain Report 2023 shows the domain industry is absorbing the shock waves, proving that the market is resilient and domains are solid assets for digitalization.

The year 2022 was a turning point. We started emerging from the covid emergency and could return to traveling and meeting our peers at industry events worldwide. But it was also a year of taking stock, with numbers returning to pre-covid levels. After two years of sky-high domain registrations, figures returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. The domain sector shows a good mix of strength and adaptability to change compared to other industries. For this reason, it comes as no surprise that the demand for domains remains high and the domain industry is active and operational as ever: “The online world remains the safest haven for most businesses, so whatever happens, domains will outperform the overall market,” comments Ron Jackson from DNJournal in the GDR23.

The Global Domain Report 2023 by InterNetX and Sedo

InterNetX and Sedo teamed up to deliver the Global Domain Report 2023. The report is an annual assessment of the domain industry and provides valuable insights into the state of domain names in 2023. Based on over 750 million data sets presented over 75 pages, the report takes a comprehensive look at trends and developments and includes statements from leading industry experts. The special chapter, “Domain atlas,” takes you on a world tour covering four regions and focusing on 14 key countries to analyze their domain usage and TLD preferences.

The ten most popular TLDs

The ten most popular top-level domains (TLDs) by the number of registrations include three legacy generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and seven country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Compared to 2022, the top 10 had some newcomers, while other extensions dropped out. The TLD .com, which accounts for more than 43% of all registered domains worldwide, saw another significant increase in registrations last year, continuing an impressive growth streak that has not stopped since the early ‘90s. Interestingly, the majority of .com websites are hosted in the USA (55.2%) and China (11.5%). Looking at the ccTLD, the German .de remains one of the market’s strongest and most penetrating TLDs, and it is important to remember that .tk and .ga operate with a cost-free policy.

ccTLDs are not holding back

ccTLDs have always represented an important segment of the domain industry, accounting for 30-40% of the global market share. The ccTLD registration rate has always been very high in some regions, such as Europe. This is a long-running trend based on historical and cultural factors that lead Europeans to prefer national TLDs for the localization of their web presence. This partiality is also confirmed by the CENTRstats Global TLD Report Q3 2022, which estimates the European market at 115 million domain registrations, of which 58% are under national ccTLDs. However, as reported in our domain atlas, the situation is different in some countries. For example, the ccTLDs of the United States and Egypt do not even reach the top 5 of their most frequently registered TLDs.

According to Sedo, ccTLDs remain very active in the aftermarket, and the charts have never been as diverse as this year. The top 10 of ccTLD public sales 2022 feature seven different TLDs. The sales list three domain names under .de, with termin.de being the highest public sale at $163,740, clearly demonstrating the recognized value of domains under this ccTLD.

African TLDs are among the fastest-growing TLDs

The growth of African ccTLDs is one of the most exciting trends in the domain space. Africa has the fastest-growing internet usage globally, and the ecosystem is developing at unprecedented levels. Unsurprisingly, this growth is reflected in the number of national ccTLDs registered, which account for almost half of all domains hosted in Africa.

According to the Global Domain Report 2023, several African ccTLDs are experiencing exponential growth. The TLDs .ga for Gambia (+32%), .ml for Mali (+34.9%), .cf for the Central African Republic (21.9%) and .qc for Equatorial Guinea (24.2%) achieved double-digit increases. In contrast, new gTLDs in Africa only hold a small market share. In a It’s all about domains interview, Adiel Akplogan, Vice President of Technical Engagement at ICANN, stated, “[...] the digital service ecosystem, in general, is growing and the domain industry is following. In the past, there was a general tendency towards legacy TLDs like .com and .net. African countries are now too late to tap into this trend, as most of the short domains under these extensions are unavailable. The new gTLD scene is not particularly relevant. People mostly turn to ccTLDs since they feel “close” to them. Furthermore, their services are local, so identification through the ccTLD provides an advantage.

Asia and niche markets are leveraging new gTLDs

With the introduction of over 1,000 new extensions, the first round of the new gTLD program in 2012 presented a historic chance for the domain industry. A second round of TLD launches has been announced and the opportunities in the namespace are set to increase again! The evolution of this market segment can be divided into three stages:

  1. Initially, new gTLDs were a pure novelty, adopted by only a handful of innovators.
  2. This was followed by a period of growth and consolidation.
  3. We are now witnessing a significant shift in focus, with native digital businesses adopting new gTLDs as part of their brand name and big corporations leveraging new gTLDs for their digital strategies.

According to Eshan Pancholi, Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy at ShortDot SA, “the number of registrars and acceptance for new domain extensions is increasing gradually, above all in China, Japan, India and the rest of South-East Asia.” Their new gTLDs .icu and .cyou show the highest growth YoY and are among the top 10 of the most frequently registered new gTLDs in 2022.

New gTLDs have been adopted in specific niche markets since they allow businesses to create meaningful connections with consumers through their visual identity—which is not easily achieved due to the saturation of “traditional” TLDs. The new gTLDs are mostly related to innovation and tech, and the .xyz extension is a great example. The extension got its first boost in 2015 when Google registered abc.xyz for its holding company Alphabet, bringing new gTLDs to the general public’s attention.

The registry collaborates with blockchain, crypto and NFT players to establish itself as a leading TLD in the Web3 sector. The published research article “Crypto & NFT: an analysis of two trending keywords in domain names” showed a vigorous increase in domain names containing these keywords with .xyz being the first new gTLD for domain names with the keywords crypto and NFT.

New gTLDs are also gaining in popularity among investors in the aftermarket. Sedo reported that .xyz is the most traded new extension on the aftermarket. This TLD vastly outperformed .online in the past years and has made it into the top 10 of the most frequently sold TLDs for the first time this year.

What is the outlook for the domain industry in 2023?

The domain industry is on the move, chasing trends and closely following the global market and developments in our society—this is clearly illustrated by the facts presented in the Global Domain Report 2023. The report shows that users are increasingly taking advantage of their ability to buy different types of TLDs. Several factors are driving this trend, including a growing awareness of the importance of domain names and the increased desire to go online.

Global Domain Report 2023 offers a 360-degree look at the domain industry featuring market research, key trends, and recent developments.

We expect new gTLDs registrations and sales to enjoy further growth and the positive development of .xyz to stay on course. The second new gTLD round is just around the corner, and the year 2023 could be the turning point that further enriches the namespace. We will see the growing popularity and consolidation of African ccTLDs as this ecosystem grows in the next decade. Africa, along with Asia, will have the largest number of Internet users. Premium domain prices will continue their upward course. Companies of all sizes will be increasingly willing to invest in their domain strategy, striving for shorter and more memorable domain names. The data from domain sales show that the aftermarket remains active and dynamic, with some TLDs reaching the top 10 for the first time. There are clear signs of how vibrant, active and future-oriented this industry is! “We’ve seen some ups and downs in the industry in the past two years, but now it’s time to see new record figures,” says Elias Rendón Berger, CEO at InterNetX.

By Simone Catania, Global Content & Communications Manager at InterNetX

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