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DOTZON Study: Digital City Brands 2023

We’ve just published the 2023 edition of the DOTZON study “Digital City Brands.” After introducing the study in early 2017, DOTZON has mapped how successful cities are using their Digital City Brands for the seventh year in a row. 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 why Digital City Brands came into being in the first place. Because since then, City Brands no longer had to work only in the analog 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 Brands. 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 167 million inhabitants and a gross domestic product of more than twelve billion US dollars.

The Digital City Brands study is based on analyzing 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 cities operate in two cityTLDs. Sources for the underlying data of this study are eight key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • 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
  • 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.

The study “Digital City Brands 2023” allows a head-to-head comparison of all cities with their own digital identities. The study shows that the Dutch cityTLD .amsterdam took over first place from .berlin, which ranks after six years in first place and is now second this year. They are followed by .tokyo in third place and .nyc in fourth place. The rising star is the Japanese cityTLD .okinawa, which scored fifth place (coming from place 17). No longer part of the top 10 is the US-based cityTLD .miami. In summary, the trend that Digital City Brands are developing very positively, particularly in Europe, has continued: Six positions in the top 10 rankings are occupied by European metropolises.

Digital City Brands Ranking 2023

1st place: .amsterdam

The Dutch extension .amsterdam reaches first place for the first time this year after many good rankings. The decisive factor here is 16.8 million websites on Google, the best ranking for this KPI among all cityTLDs. Almost 18 domains per 1,000 inhabitants, and many registered domains complement the top ranking despite a low gross national product. In terms of turnover, .amsterdam achieves a solid 5th place and thus well-deservedly the new top position in our ranking.

2nd place: .berlin

After six times in the top 1, .berlin is in second place for the first time this year. The extension .berlin was the first cityTLD ever to be made available to the public. In most ranking categories, .berlin achieves consistently good values: for a turnover of around 1.9 million US dollars generated by the almost 50,000 registered Internet addresses. .berlin achieves a good 6th place in the KPI “domains per 1,000 inhabitants”. Furthermore, .berlin is represented with 77 domains in the Alexa and Majestic rankings of the one million most visited websites worldwide, which is the fourth best value in this category.

3rd place: .tokyo

The city extension .tokyo, operated by the Tokyo-based company GMO, had to cede its second place to .berlin, and lands in third place this year. With 118,030 domains, .tokyo is still the cityTLD with the most registered internet addresses. In the Alexa Rank, .tokyo appears with a total of 240 domains and in the Majestic Rank with 59 domains, thus taking second place in this category. The fact that .tokyo is extremely popular is also reflected in the category “city ending versus country ending”: .tokyo is almost as popular as the Japanese ccTLD .jp.

4th place: .nyc

Since its introduction in 2014, the city extension .nyc has become the digital home for many New Yorkers. Compared to the previous year, however, it has dropped one place. The reason for the still very good ranking in the top positions in the Alexa and Majestic Rank—37 and 96 domains in the top 1 million rankings—speak for themselves. In addition, .nyc is clearly more popular than the ccTLD .us. The high registration numbers - 60,714 domains exist under .nyc - complement the good ranking.

5th place: .okinawa

With .okinawa, a second Japanese city, is represented in the top 10 ranking for the first time. The southern Japanese city reached sixth place this year after 17th place last year. The outstanding result is due to over 51% active domains, as well as over 32 domains per 1,000 inhabitants. The fact that .okinawa is more than twice as popular as the Japanese ccTLD .jp also contributes to the very good ranking.

6th place: .hamburg

After tenth place in the previous year, .hamburg improved to sixth place this year. With almost 20,000 registered domains, the number of registered internet addresses has remained stable compared to the previous year. The good ranking is also due to a turnover of approx. 750,000 US dollars, as well as fifth place in the category “gross national product per domain.”

7th place: .paris

The French city extension .paris was able to improve by one place compared to the previous year, from eighth to seventh place, and is thus represented in the top 10 for the fourth time. A good fifth place in the Alexa and Majestic rankings with 25 and 24 domains, respectively, contribute to this - as does a very good sixth place in terms of turnover amounting to approx. 680,000 US dollars, and in the category “registered domains,” 19,968 domains, which account for eighth place.

8th place: .koeln

.koeln has dropped one place from seventh to eighth place this year. A number of 19 domains per 1,000 inhabitants as well as the good registration figures of 19,630 domains, have contributed to the good position in the top 10 ranking. The top position is taken by .koeln in the category “gross national product per domain” and thus contributes to the success of the cityTLD.

9th place: .vegas

After a fifth place in the previous year, .vegas is in ninth place this year. Eighth place in the Alexa and Majestic rankings and fifth place in the KPI “domains per 1,000 inhabitants” contributed to the ninth place. Second place in the popularity of the .vegas extension ahead of the .us ccTLD rounds off the good results.

10th place: .london

After ninth place last year, London finds itself in tenth place this year. The city ending performs well in some categories: for example, a good 35,000 domains were registered under .london by June 2023, which corresponds to the fourth-best value in the city ranking. In addition, the cityTLD achieved the fourth-highest turnover with approx. 875,000 US dollars and can still claim 33 and 71 domains, respectively, and thus a solid fifth place in the Alexa and Majestic Rank.

Outlook

The areas of digitization, sustainability and e-government will continue to be among the driving forces for the development of cities. 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 and their stakeholders use the Digital City Brand for their projects: How Brussels makes its city safer and how it coordinates the project with all stakeholders is presented by the city administration at safe.brussels. The city of Stockholm publicly communicates its city anniversary at stadshuset.stockholm. The Okinawa Ikimono Lab can be reached at biodiversity.okinawa, and presents insights into the biodiversity that Okinawa has to offer. The Hamburg bicycle star ride was announced on posters citywide, and the matching domain fahrradsternfahrt.hamburg is prominently communicated.

Likeable puns like id.taipei, flat.okinawa, hello.capetown and wonderfulsmile.hamburg show how playfully cityTLDs and campaigns go together.

We expect that more cities will use their cityTLDs even more intensively in the future so that we will be able to present new placements.

The study is availabe for download at https://dotzon.consulting/studien. Interested parties can order the detailed study including all KPI tables (in German) via [email protected].

By Katrin Ohlmer, CEO DOTZON

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