.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 toiletpaper.guru works, but toiletpaper.sexy 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.