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Disappointing .sexy launch shows the importance of the channel

Kevin Murphy, February 27, 2014, 11:22:38 (UTC), Domain Registries

.sexy not so sexy after all?

Uniregistry’s first new gTLDs to launch, .sexy and .tattoo, have showed a poor first-day performance after the company failed to secure Go Daddy as a registrar partner.

During the 60-day sunrise period and the first 30 hours of general availability, .sexy sold just shy of 2,700 domains, judging by zone files, while .tattoo racked up a pitiful 700 registrations.

This makes .sexy the 19th most popular new gTLD. On the DI PRO league table it’s sandwiched between .holdings and .camera, and .tattoo the 28th, between .voyage and .careers.

It’s not a completely terrible performance for .sexy — .camera and .holdings have been on the market for three and four weeks respectively — but one might have expected better sales for a string that isn’t tied to a particular vertical niche and is, arguably, just intrinsically attractive.

.sexy’s first-day performance is in the same ball park as Donuts’ .gallery and .estate, hardly strings to get excited about.

For .tattoo, the story is less gray — under 1,000 domains sold is not a success in anyone’s book.

I think there are a couple reasons for the poor showing.

First, the strings themselves. While I can see .sexy proving popular with regular buyers, it doesn’t easily lend itself to domain names that are instinctively attractive to domainers.

You can put pretty much any profession or product name in front of a .guru and it is meaningful as a brand or a rather grandiose self-appointed title. Not so with .sexy.

Ironically, this appears to be Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling’s “Toilet Paper Test” in action.

Schilling argues that the test of how generic, and by extension popular, a gTLD is should be whether toiletpaper.[tld] works. I think works, but does not.

Second, Uniregistry lacked distribution.

While it had big registrars such as eNom and NameCheap (almost 50 in total) on its books, it lacked Go Daddy and 1&1 — the two companies that have been pushing pre-registrations more heavily than any other.

The reason Donuts’ gTLDs performed better in their first hours is that these companies, mainly Go Daddy, had been collecting pre-regs for weeks and spammed the registry with registration requests at the first second they were able. Day one registrations actually represent weeks of marketing and leads.

Uniregistry took an awfully big risk by demanding registrars hand over part of the customer relationship to the registry, and it seems to have impacted its sales.

The company plans to shortly launch its own registrar, and is betting hard of this being a successful sales channel.

I’m somewhat skeptical about this strategy, at least in the short term.

Go Daddy has spent tens (hundreds?) of millions of dollars on marketing over the last decade or so. It has a lot of eyeballs already and it’s going to be nigh-on impossible to replicate that degree of success.

Uniregistry is not the only new gTLD portfolio registry enthusiastically embracing vertical integration.

The trail was blazed by Minds + Machines, which launched its own registrar last November. Today, it’s difficult to tell on the company’s web site where the registrar ends and the registry begins.

What’s M+M’s launch channel going to look like? We’re not going to know for sure until its first TLDs hit the market.

Are the big registrars going to make the vertically integrated business model difficult to carry off successfully? While registries are obliged to give access to any registrar that wants to sell their names, registrars have no obligations to carry any TLD they don’t want to.

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Comments (23)

  1. Reality Check says:

    At last finally someone that tells it like it is.

    Reality it’s starting to sink in.

    New TLDs all round stats are for the most part just proving Rick ‘the Father’ prediction right….

    a Massive and epic FAIL!

    • Acro says:

      @(un)Reality Check – Don’t hold your anti-gTLD hatred back. If you’re not vested in gTLD your alleged loss is zero. So stick to being that.

    • Richard Funden says:

      You sound like one of those Playstation/Xbox fanbois, relentlessly harping on the advantages of one system over the other. It is almost as if you have something to lose if the new TLDs become a success so you try to keep them down in any way possible.

      Why not simply shut up and see how it turns out?

      Everybody knew and still knows that some will fly and some will tank, so lets just wait and see.

  2. Kerry says:

    Too early to tell. I don’t think new extensions success should be measured by the first day on the market. I’m betting that .sexy and .tattoo do well in the long run. It’s a marathon of which I bought one…’Halloweencostume’ πŸ™‚

  3. ADI says:

    Thank you for this honest article.
    We need more blogs like this and Rick`s one.
    I stop reading as I saw so much rubbish there recently.

  4. Truthfully, I think we made the right choices. Given the opportunity to do it over I would go to market the same way. Let’s see where we are in a year ; )

    • ADI says:

      “Truthfully, I think we made the right choices. Given the opportunity to do it over I would go to market the same way. Let’s see where we are in a year ; )”

      I have seen video on which you was saying about .xxx – it was before the lunch.
      You spent millions on them, and after a year .xxx Registry start offering premium names for funny money because they discovered that people are not interested in them.
      Of course, still most for sale to this day. There is no .XXX market.

      There is not chance you could get money back today which spent on .xxx.
      And now, your words sound like a joke when you are saying again about opportunities.
      You should apologize people who bought .xxx because of your words.

      But I am 100% sure you will feel justice very soon with your rubbish extensions.

  5. DonnyM says:

    I am not sure which new extensions will turn out the best. Way to many good domains in .com that are selling for 500-1000. It’s just insane. It’s like no one is paying attention to .com and that is great if you like .com

    With the new extensions, What I would be concerned with is Google has over 450 million gmail accounts, Amazon has 100 million accounts in US alone. You put a Free domain name name in the gmail promotions box and you can say good night to 95% of these new extensions.. Very lucky that they are not coming out until later.

    This is about who can get the most attention. You put enough money behind or exposure behind an extension and it will gain ground. But at what cost? >.co could do it because they had the money and where the only game in town.

    Even if Google or Amazon don’t offer a Free domain name it won’t matter. Consumers going not going to pay the 25 or 500.00 renewal each year on a domain name.. It’s like .tv all over again.

    You have to ask yourself would you pay google or amazon 10 bucks for a domain name with pretty much unlimited storage,email, shopping cart, and everything set to go or would you do the other option of paying high renewals and basically 0 add-ons.

    • Phil Buckingham says:

      Absolutely agree – but that is the old dot com model . These new gTLD are about dot niche business models. As Frank says lets see in a year. I still recogn that 80% of generics wont hit critical mass viability unless they control,own the vertical.

  6. Thuggy Biggers says:

    Nice blog post. You seem to really know your stuff.

    Let’s not make the new TLDs a .mobi argument. You guys remember how bad that was?

    Pro or con you should be able to say what you want about the new TLDs. I would say that in reality ACRO and Richard Funden are attacking a legitimate opinion from Reality Check. You two took it personal because he did not agree with your sentiments and trashed TLDs.

    I think you two have the right to trash .com if you should want, so back off.

  7. Good points Kevin

    If anyone watches the DomainSherpa show today (recorded yesterday) I said the same thing about .Sexy its on the wrong side of the dot.

    Its the start of a term not the end of a term same problem with the upcoming .best as another example

    ADI your support is appreciated

  8. Jason says:

    @ ADI

    Please don’t but Kevin and Rick in the sentence. That’s probably a tremendous insult to your host.

  9. blehblehbleh says:

    Wishing there was a popcorn icon. Or, a .popcorn

  10. Kelly Hardy says:

    Just a though on interpreting this information: Many new TLDs are incredibly niche. If you consider the general public’s lack of awareness or basic understanding of what a TLD is, shaming a particular extension or registry for not performing immediately seems a bit shortsighted. The highly specific nature of .Tattoo, and many other new TLDs, makes the concept of performance quite relative.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Perhaps weight domain registrations to WW industry revenue ? How much does the Tattoo industry make a year ?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Kelly, isn’t it the registry’s job to create this awareness? I might bemoan the fact that nobody buys my product, but if I haven’t advertised it to the people who might want to buy it or made efforts to have other people sell it for me, surely I’m doing something wrong.

  11. Quentin says:

    you neglect to mention uniregistry changing its policy regards available names the night before GA which saw legitimate preregistrations get frozen

    • John Berryhill says:

      Quentin, Uniregistry offered no “preregistrations” before GA, so I’m not sure what a “legitimate preregistration” might be. Uniregistry likewise offered none of the various “premium name” advance sales of the various types other registries have offered, and which have generated some controversy. Sunrise, ICANN required-reserved names, etc. were not allocated until just prior to GA. Uniregistry names were available at any time prior to GA, or subject to “legitimate preregistration”.

      Various registrars offer to take orders and to load them into a queue for registration at launch, and the registrars offer those sorts of services on various terms. It’s fine for registrars to offer such services on clearly-defined terms. However, such a service cannot guarantee that any particular domain name will be available at the time of launch or that the registrar will necessarily be successful in obtaining that domain name.

  12. zack says:

    This is a funny story. Yes, perhaps .sexy will not be a huge success but I suppose it depends on how you define success. Is 50,000 domain names successful? Perhaps not but when you are a portfolio registry like Uniregistry then you look at what kind of revenue all of your revenue generating assets will tally. If, across all of their TLDs Uniregistry is able to sell 1M domain names, then I would say that company is probably going to be relatively successful – of course I have no idea what their costs look like but it doesn’t take much to run a registry and adding more registries on the same platform costs even less than the first. Personally, I would be investing in these portfolio TLD companies if I could.

    By the way, GoDaddy isn’t the only game in town. United Domains is carrying them and I think they are a fairly large registrar – especially in Europe where it might be sexy to own a .sexy.

  13. John Berryhill says:

    Hey, who hasn’t had a disappointing sexy launch every once in a while?

  14. Gabriel says:

    I like .voyage. The French may like it too. Needs to be advertised to French speakers.

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