The global domain name market in 2013

April 2014

At the end of 2013, an overall total of 275 million domain names had been registered, of which 151 million (55%) were generic TLDs (gTLDs) and 124 million (45%) were country-code TLDs (ccTLDs). These volumes represented variations of + 3.6% for gTLDs and + 12.1% for ccTLDs, for an overall market growth estimated at 8.8% (integrating the so-called "free" ccTLDs which grew 21% in 2013).

On-going slowdown in growth

The market growth for gTLDs continued to follow a downward trend in 2013, while remaining positive. The downturn remained sharp but was less pronounced than in 2012. The trend in domain name creations is of concern among gTLDs, since it was negative for the second consecutive year and even worsened in 2013 to -1.4% against -0.8% in 2012.

gTLD creation and stock growth rate evolution

Contrasting trends

The averages conceal strong contrasts between active gTLDs in 2013, as shown by the changes in stocks. Of note was the sharp deterioration in the situation of the .coop TLD, the stock of which almost halved after an explosion in domain name creations in 2012 (despite the predictable effect of renewals, which are often low at the end of a promotion campaign). The .info TLD also continued to plunge, with a loss of -21% against -11% in 2012. Other less known gTLDs or those formerly registered for "defensive" reasons (.travel, .tel, xxx, .pro, .name) are victims of the same trend. The major gTLDs of the past (.com, .net, .org) managed to pursue positive, albeit relatively small growth, the .com remaining the undisputed leader with its 114 million names, and even outperforming the average for the gTLDs and ccTLDs in the European Union. The "TOP 3" gTLDs in 2013 consisted of the .mobi and .biz gTLDs (promoted by a campaign allowing them to garner 24% of their annual number of domain name creations in September 2013 alone) and the .cat ccTLD, confirming once again the potential of regional TLDs.

Stock variations

The challenge for 2014: the "maintenance" rates

Overall, the ccTLDs doped by the .cn (China, 70%) and TLDs marketed in the so-called "free" mode grew faster than the gTLDs, which have probably already been faced with the phenomenon of disposals. Domain name registrants are confronted with a dilemma: either to keep domain names which are often unused, in which case increasing their domain name budgets in order to register new names under the TLDs that have opened since the beginning of 2014; or to abandon the largest possible number of unnecessary names and move to the new TLDs without exploding the same budget. Presumably most registrants oscillate between the two alternatives and in all likelihood therefore the maintenance rate of gTLDs and ccTLDs (in relation which, however, holders appear to be more loyal) will follow a downward trend in 2014.

 

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