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Most businesses don’t care about .uk domains

Kevin Murphy, July 6, 2016, 15:17:31 (UTC), Domain Registries

The majority of businesses in the UK don’t care about direct second-level .uk domains, even when the benefits are spelled out for them, according to Nominet research.

The new survey found that only 27% of businesses would “definitely” or “probably” exercise their new right to buy a .uk domain that matches their .co.uk or .org.uk name.

That number only went up to 40% after respondents had seen a brief Nominet marketing pitch, the survey found.

Another 16% said they had no plans to get their .uk, post-pitch, while 44% remained undecided.

This was the value proposition the respondents saw (click to enlarge):

Nominet sales pitch

Under the direct .uk policy, all registrants of third-level domains, such as example.co.uk, have the right of refusal over the matching example.uk.

If they don’t exercise that right by June 10, 2019, the matching SLDs will be unfrozen and released into the available pool.

The new Nominet research also found out that most registrants don’t even know they have this right.

Only 44% of respondents were aware of the right. That went up to 45% for businesses and down to 33% for respondents who only owned .uk domain names (as opposed to gTLD names).

A quarter of respondents, which all already own 3LD .uk domains, didn’t even know second-level regs were possible.

Of those who had already bought their .uk names, over two thirds were either parking or redirecting. Individuals were much more likely to actually use their names for emails or personal sites.

The numbers are not terribly encouraging for the direct .uk initiative as it enters into its third year.

They suggest that if something is not done to raise awareness in the next few years, a lot of .co.uk businesses could find their matching SLDs in the hands of cybersquatters or domainers.

Nominet members (registrars and domainers primarily) were quizzed about possible ways to increase adoption during a company webinar today.

Suggestions such as making the domains free (they currently cost £2.50 a year, the same as a 3LD) or bribing a big anchor tenant such as the BBC to switch were suggested.

There’s a lot of dissatisfaction among the membership about the fact that .uk SLDs were allowed in the first place.

The number of second-level .uk names has gone from 96,696 in June 2014 to to 350,088 last year to 593,309 last month, according to Nominet stats.

Over the same periods, third-level regs have been shrinking, from 10.43 million to 10.22 million to 10.08 million, .

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Comments (9)

  1. Ian Ingram says:

    I think their value proposition needs an additional bullet point to put some urgency into their message. Something like:

    -If you don’t exercise your right in time, someone else can own your .uk domain.

    Or,

    -If you don’t spend £6.99 to own the shorter version of your domain, your competitor may. 🙂

  2. Eric Lyon says:

    I think .uk relies more on being the direct ccTLD thinking that their target audience will automatically switch over without any effort. An assumption that’s hurting them. Their marketing campaign has lots of room for improvements to target local markets. Unless they step up their game and make a serious push for exposure, they will continue slide off the map.

  3. Samit says:

    2022 or 3 years after .uk is freely available without needing one to own the matching third level like .co.uk etc, it will be the defacto cctld for the UK.

    Third level domains (keyword.xx.xxx) are losing ground dramatically across the entire namespace and will continue to do so.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      That’s not what we are seeing in . br … let’s how .au goes, because it’s similar in having . com . ccTLD. I see .co . ccTLD TLDs, like .jp and .uk, having better reasons to move to 2LD registrations.

  4. Volker Greimann says:

    Shorter is better

  5. Did my own small research on this a couple of weeks ago (https://www.tld.sc/en/2016/06/co-uk-still-preferred-to-uk-two-years-after-launch/). Obviously there is no way of denying the fact that .uk hasn’t won the battle (yet). But I do think it is noteworthy that the number of 3d level .co.uk domain names has been dropping the last years, while .uk is seeing a steady growth.
    There still is a long way to go for .uk, but if this continues, the future clearly is with the shorter .uk.

  6. Dot Advice says:

    These findings are totally unsurprising to the vast majority ( from the 20th largest downwards) of Nominet members. “We told you so” . It has nothing to do with the .uk being shorter ( although semantically it is !) but much more to do with a lack of effective marketing by Nominet ,so a lack of awareness and adoption .For co uk owners “Old habits die hard”. Costs still outweigh benefits. But as new gTLDs increasingly gain traction and awareness in the UK then wont we see UK business and individuals rebranding to more .relevant.memorable.generics making both .co.uk & .uk increasingly more .redundant

    • Volker Greimann says:

      Most larger Nominet members supported the move as it would bring the .uk internet into line with most other countries in Europe.
      Marketing needs to be improved, however there is still enough time left for the ROFR.

  7. Adam says:

    Nominet .UK right of refusal member webinar – 6th July 2016

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