Are Domain Names Like Books?

newgtldIs it possible for a registrar to efficiently promote 1000 extensions? Bookstores usually rotate the top book sellers on their homepage. But these change as new books are released. Maybe that is true these days for New gTLDs but what about long term promotions? Can a registry e.g. like Donuts with over 150 extensions rely on registrars to promote its extensions? And are registrars willing to do it and jeopardize losing sales? I bet they are not.

Registrars don’t have an “if you like this domain then you will like this domain too” feature like bookstores have. Sure they can offer you some domains based on what domains you have registered with them. That is if you are a customer already. What about if you are not?

Bookstores have the books sorted into categories and have the newest releases in separate categories. Many people want to buy a new book of their favorite author. Do people want to buy the newest extension? They want to buy an extension that works for them.

People can go on a shopping spree on books. Yes, they can do it for domains too but because they are likely to use only one for their website they will probably buy only one too.

Extensions don’t age like books. And there is not going to be a new extension in next 10 years that will be better than the 1000+ existing ones.

If you want to compare extensions then you should compare them with authors or book publishers.

The simple answer is that books are not like domain names. For starters domain names are unique. But they do have one thing in common: some people can’t get enough of either.

Registrars have a problem right now. They either going to only offer .com, .net, .org, .co.uk and .guru or .club or 1000 tlds. I think they will pick 5-6 extensions and market them. But how do they choose?

Hover has been experimenting with an intuitive landing page, so they can target the potential registrants with suitable extensions. This is very hard to do.

Go daddy only promotes 4 or 5 extensions on its homepage. And it has tens of different homepages that are geotargeted, so they don’t promote .nyc to Europeans that can’t even register one. With 42 homepages Go Daddy promotes very few new gtlds in these homepages. Only .club has more than 10 appearances.

It is a known fact that if a consumer has too many options they will not make a choice. And if they finally do, then they will revert to what they know. In our case: .com. So offering a registrant 1000 registration options I think is disastrous to New gTLDs.

You need to know who your registrant is so you can offer them correct options. But that is very difficult. Maybe you need to base your results on the domain keyword. But if a registrant enters “Jones” into the domain name search, how do you know what they do? It easy to return .law or .lawyer if the search for “jones-law”. But if they don’t? And they usually are not that specific.

Maybe registrars can rotate between the New gTLDs but that doesn’t make financial sense. Why waste homepage real estate on something that has very low probability of selling?

Registrars can only promote some New gTLD generics as they are being called, like .guru, .club and soon .web or .online. But other than that…

Most New gTLDs are niche extensions and these will never be promoted long term on a registrar’s first page or newsletter.

So as a registry you can’t expect a registrar to do all the New gTLD marketing. Just because the 1 year cohort renewal rate for new gtlds is better than the .com and because new gtlds have a higher profit margin.

If they promote new gtlds at the same time registrars would be promoting something new and more expensive. That is in most cases. I don’t think it is a coincidence that .club if the tld that is marketed more in registrars. Even though it has lower profit margin than say .ventures.

It is not all about profit margin. Volume and total profit is more important than making more on very few domains. And probably the new gtld profit margin will soon shrink with more competition bringing down the prices.

Paul Stahura said to me on Twitter that “Donuts TLDs > 50% renewal rate for new .coms which is what registrars care about”. This is not really true. Registrars are about total profit.

When I told him that “But registrars can only promote 5-10 tlds best. Not 150. And volume is a bigger factor than renewal rate.” he replied “lol like Amazon can only promote 5-10 books best.”. I don’t think .red or .how or .plumbing are laughing.

Do you want to sell 1000 .com and 100 .club making $2 per domain or sell 10 .horse making $10 per domain? I guess the answer is obvious.

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

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