Analysis of .CLUB and the New gTLDs

Analysis of .CLUB and the New gTLDs

With the crossing over the 10 million mark for the total number of new gTLDs registered I thought that it would be worthwhile conducting an analysis of what is happening in this new market. As is typical of any new market, quite a number of new gTLDs are struggling but as registrations increase, time is on the side of those that have the cash to survive.

Escrow.com

The first chart shows the total number of new gTLDs that have been registered month on month since Feb 2014. As can be seen from the graph it’s basically been a linear growth rate until the last month, where it has taken a definite turn upwards. It will be interesting to see if this recent trend will continue moving forward.

new gtld growth in registrations

 

When we look at the growth rate per month chart there has been a rapid downward slide that has stabilised around the 10% per month mark. This is not unexpected as the initial numbers were small and any growth off a small base will be quite large.

 

What is interesting is the fact that the trend line is flattening out to just over 7% growth. According to a recent report the overall global domain growth is around 6.5% so trending down to just over 7% isn’t surprising. Once again, the uptick in Nov is a bit of an aberration so it will be interesting to see if the trend continues.

Now here’s the challenge for the new gTLDs. According to nTLDstats.com (where this data comes from) just over 8 million domains are parked (ie. 77%) or not being used in the “wild”. What this suggests is that the majority of the growth is coming from the domain investor community.

Why is this a problem? For a start, this means that the majority of domains are not being seen by the general public in more traditional forms of advertising. Hopefully this will change as some of the global brands that have their own extension will begin advertising with it.

Secondly, domain investors are after a return based upon the value of the domain sales that they achieve. Given the massive influx of domain supply this value is unlikely to be realised in the near term. This means that there won’t be as much money to reinvest into the new gTLDs from the domain investor community and it’s very likely that over the next couple of years a lot of the domains will be dropped.

Here’s the other issue. Other than November the number of domains registered per month is basically linear BUT the number of extensions available to register has been growing rapidly! This essentially means that there are more and more new gTLDs fighting over the same sized pie. What this suggests is the new gTLDs have been largely unsuccessful in enticing new money into the domain space and are totally reliant upon a finite domain investor pool of investment funds.

Now let’s take a look at .club as they are often regarded as the poster child of what to do right in this space. Since they were launched they have been growing month on month in a roughly linear fashion until July where growth essentially stopped and then resumed at a more modest rate until October and then skyrocketed in November.

.club domain registrations

Given the northern hemisphere summer period a slowdown in growth for July and August should be expected but the rapid surge into October and November is staggering. I would like to claim that the rapid increase was a direct result of readers seeing the .club banner advertisement on my blog but sadly, this is unlikely to be true…..although I cross my fingers.

Percentage growth in .club domains

I actually believe the team at .club have been really smart in laying the ground work to tap into the Chinese domain market. This became particularly focused since the beginning of September when they attended DomainFest Macau. It was clear that they were on a mission to evangelise .club to the Chinese marketplace.

The recent release of a slew of premium domain names into two auctions has created a huge amount of interest in the extension. This has clearly spilled over outside the auction domains into the wider .club inventory and has resulted in a rapid increase in registrations. It’s being smart about how to leverage these publicity events that has made .club a standout in the industry.

Given the recent surge in registrations, a back of the envelope calculation would immediately indicate that .club is a profitable extension. The entire industry should celebrate any extension getting over the line and this will hopefully spur those that are struggling onwards.

I would not be surprised if Colin and the team at .club are casting their eye over a few of these struggling extensions and considering an acquisition or two. With their proven marketing muscle this would almost be a no brainer. It will be interesting to see what happens in the months ahead.

In the meantime, I'm going to be keeping my eye on the industry as I believe there are a lot more acts to this play before the final curtain is raised.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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The Cult of Personality

The Cult of Personality

In every industry there are people that we all can be tempted to aspire to be like. I’ve watched some domainers desperately believe that if they follow an industry celebrity then they will achieve the same level of success. Sadly, they get swayed by a personality and completely ignore the results.

When you’re at a conference it’s really easy to get caught up in all the hype and you can fool yourself into believing that everyone is much more successful than you. Let me say from the outset that the great majority of numbers that you hear can be divide by at least three. So don’t panic and just keep your eye on your own key business metrics.

Escrow.com

When you get home from a conference and sit there alone wondering how you’re going to pay your domain renewals, the parties and personalities seem to become a distant memory. All that counts is the bottom line.

So don’t be swayed by the personalities…..dig into your own numbers. It takes a lot of work and skill to understand what is actually going on with a domain portfolio so that you can make sound business decisions rather than an emotional ones.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having a great time as much as the next person and it’s often the personalities in our industry that make it so exciting and vibrant. But business is all about making wise decisions rather than jumping from one miracle cure to another because someone said that the new solution was just so awesome!

Always ask yourself the question, "Who is ultimately who is looking after my valuable assets?" Are they measured individuals that will treat your family’s inheritance with the respect that it deserves or will they party like there’s no tomorrow on the value of your domains?

I don’t know about you but there are some personalities in this industry that I wouldn’t let within a hundred feet of my assets! The short-term excitement of being with these individuals may be exhilarating but remember when you leap off a cliff the fall doesn’t kill you….it’s the inevitability of the ground rushing towards you that does the damage.

Our whole industry is built on numbers. Numbers of people come to our domains, numbers of people click and numbers make up our revenue. Don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the numbers and not the personalities that we should be watching.

There's a great saying that goes something like this, "Don't speak to the butcher if you want to invest in precious stones....speak to the jeweller." In other words, find the real experts in the industry and get to know them. They are often the ones that are quietly going about do their work.

And ultimately, get inspired by others but don’t aspire to be like them…..just be yourself.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Critical Insights Into the Domain Industry – Part 5

Critical Insights Into the Domain Industry – Part 5

Check out the previous articles in this series on the domain name industry.

We now need to leap forward in time to 2014 when the first new gTLDs were launched. What does this mean for domain investors that has adopted a sales model? How will the price of .com domains be impacted by the new gTLDs?

I personally believe that the prices that .com domains receive for the stock-turn-model of selling domains will be maintained as the demand from the renewed interest in domains offsets the effects of a massive oversupply. As time goes by and the new gTLDs become more mainstream the prices of the .com domains and all other extensions will fall. If you’re a cash constrained small business why spend $1500 on a domain name when you can pick up something very similar for $10?

Escrow.com

This would suggest that if you have adopted this business model for your .com domains then brace yourself for a decline in sales prices. I should say that this excludes the top-shelf single-word generics.

After the initial flurry of interest in the ngTLDs it will take around 7 years until we start to see them selling for prices at the current levels. What it does mean is that an investor buying today will need to factor in the renewals for 7 years before they can even start to see a return on their investment.

So if I’m buying a portfolio of ngTLDs for $10 each then I need to work my ROI around 7 years of re-registration fees before I can hope to sell them on a stock-turn business model of 1-2% per year. I would consider any sales prior to this time frame as an element of good luck. It should be noted that most of the domains will not have any traffic and this will contribute to the depress demand.

For many of the ngTLDs I’ve seen investors enter the market and snap up a lot of the quality domains. This surge in investor demand will have the impact of increasing the length of time for a ROI to beyond 7 years as the general public won’t see the gTLD being used by real businesses.

We saw an example of this behaviour when domain investors purchased the majority of the great generic .eu domains. It took years for .eu domains to be seen in traditional advertising. The length of time meant that many domain investors dropped their investments as the hoped for pot of gold didn't materialise quickly enough.

The renewed interested in the domain market has meant that many new investors have purchased large portfolios of domains and have not considered the sales time horizon. This is a big mistake. I would not be surprised if a lot of domains begin dropping in 3-4 years as investor cash reserves run dry. In fact, I’m banking on this happening and sitting on the side lines, cashed up and waiting for the opportunities to fall. The goal of every investor should be to hold an asset for the least amount of time as possible prior to selling that asset.

Let's explore what I'm mean from a very high level. Each year there are roughly 1,000 domains sold above $10,000 each. If we were to ignore the portfolio “quality” argument (ie. single word generics etc.) then the odds of selling a domain over $10,000 is roughly 0.0003%. Think of it as 1,000 divided by 300 million domains. The maths could be out a little but I don’t believe that it’s out by orders of magnitude.

If 0.0003% is the average figure then on a normalised distribution of quality then with great domains constantly getting offers domains at the entreme ends of the curve will rarely, if ever, receive meaningful offers. So if you do get an offer then my advice is to sell immediately.

What is amazing is that despite the decline in the PPC landscape it is still 2-3 times bigger than the total sum of domains sold each year. The difference between domain traffic and selling domains at the top end of the market is that domain traffic is monetisable now and it will ALWAYS be valuable for advertisers. An individual domain is only valuable to a small select group of businesses.

Let me return to the ngTLD market. Over the next few years there will be three successful business models adopted by the various registries. The first is those that have scaled vertically (eg. .club) and have poured all of their resources into making the single extension fly. The second is those that have scaled horizontally (eg. Donuts) and have several hundred ngTLDs under the one administrative structure. The third business model will be for specific market niches (eg. .cpa) which will adopt the extension as part of an overall global brand.

The balance of the extensions will either barely succeed or fail. Those in this camp that realise this first will be able to sell their businesses/contracts to one of the three successful models. The remainder will enter a frenzy of fire sales. The delay until this happens will really depend upon the length of time it takes for the cash to run dry for each of the registries.

From a domain investment perspective choosing the right ngTLD that will survive will be as important as choosing the right domain. It will be interesting to see what will happen to registries that no one wants to buy or can’t continue. Ifully admit that I’m unaware of the ICANN contractual details around this eventuality.

The bottom line is that ngTLD's are a very long-term investment and given this they have a LOT of risks associated with them for domain investors.....so if you end up buying up a portfolio then make sure that you choose wisely and have very deep pockets.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Why I'm not buying into the new gTLDs

Why I'm not buying into the new gTLDs

With the all-pervasive hysteria about the new gTLDs I feel like I’m going a bit against the flow. So why aren’t I getting into a buying frenzy and forking out wads of cash?

In a previous blog I talked about having a business model for each domain name that I own, the problem is I can’t see a business model with the new gTLDs.

Let’s just think about it for a second; they won’t have any traffic, with the glut of opportunities available they won’t really be that sellable and I don’t need another domain to build into business (I’ve got enough to last a lifetime!). Hmmm…..so what is the business model? How am I going to get my return on my investment? I’m not…plain and simple.

On top of there not being a business model I find that it’s also all about focus. Since 2014 started ParkLogic is has been going through a massive growth spurt and we’re in the middle of a major developmental project. We hope to have this ready for release at DomainFest at the end of March. I don’t want to lose my focus from ParkLogic on something that is more of a gamble playing the lottery.

So when you place your hard earned cash on the table ask yourself two simple questions:
1.    What is my return on my investment?
2.    When will this happen?

If you can’t ask these questions then I suggest that you attend TRAFFIC in Las Vegas and put your money on the roulette wheel. At least you may have some fun!

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