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.club is the bestest new gTLD, .club survey finds

Kevin Murphy, December 21, 2017, 09:41:56 (UTC), Domain Registries

.CLUB Domains has published the results of some research it commissioned into media mentions of new gTLDs that show .club coming out on top.

It’s an interesting new way to compare the relative success of new gTLDs based on usage or eyeballs rather than registration volumes, even if the report has its flaws.

In a blog post, .CLUB chief marketing officer Jeff Sass wrote:

A business will invest their time and money to incorporate a domain name that they trust and value. Their domain becomes an active component of their branding, marketing, and PR activities.

When the press or media picks up announcements and/or writes articles about these businesses, the domain name typically gets mentioned in the articles and press releases. This leads to further awareness, familiarity, and trust built around the domain name extensions that are mentioned most frequently in the press.

The registry paid Meltwater, a media monitoring company, to dig up all the media references to domains using any of the top 10 largest new gTLDs over the first half of the year.

It found that .club had the most mentions both empirically and adjusted for TLD size, and that .club’s media mentions had the most positive slant.

From the report (pdf):

When tracking the number of press impressions (articles) in terms of raw numbers, the top 3 were: .CLUB, with 14,519 impressions; .XYZ, with 10,770 impressions; and .ONLINE, with 9,595 impressions. When looking at the impression data against topline registration numbers, the top 3 TLDs were: .CLUB, with 13.29 impressions for every 1,000 registrations; .ONLINE, with 12.87 impressions for every 1,000 registrations; and .SITE, with 6.55 impressions for every 1,000 registrations. As for positive sentiment, the top 3 TLDs were: .CLUB, with 4,300 articles; .ONLINE, with 2,200 articles; and .XYZ with 2,189 articles.

The definition of “article” used by Meltwater is pretty broad. It’s certainly not looking at only the mainstream media.

The survey included press releases as well as editorial, and seems to include a fair bit of user-generated content, such as posts on Medium.com and Sohu.com, too.

There’s even one “article” cited that is actually just a Kickstarter crowd-funding project page.

The survey also double-counts articles, so if a press release appears on multiple sites, or an article is syndicated to multiple publications, each appearance was counted separately.

One could argue that all of this is a fair enough way to conduct such a survey — .CLUB is looking for evidence of grassroots usage and awareness, not just of coverage by publications with rigorous editorial controls.

And the methodology also called for all articles produced by or written about the registries themselves to be disregarded, presumably reducing the number of hits per registry and the chance of the results being gamed.

But a lot of the 30 articles cited directly in the Meltwater report, particularly those coming out of China, appear to be rather spammy. Others are just odd. Others offer negative views of specific new gTLD domains.

One of them is an inexplicable Chinese translation of a warning about a UK company using a .loan domain to scam people, for example.

Another is a BuzzFeed article from Japan about a fake news site using a .xyz domain to target Koreans.

Other references are so minor that even though Meltwater’s spiders spotted them I doubt many human beings would.

One of .club’s big hits is just a tiny photo credit on an stock image used in a forgettable BuzzFeed listicle, another is the Daily Mail quoting an Instagram post by an American athlete who uses a .club domain in a hashtag, the third is a self-promotional blog post on Medium.com by the owner of minicomic.club.

If these are the most prominent citations Meltwater could dig up over six months, these new gTLDs still have a way to go in terms of awareness.

But my main issue with the research is that it was limited to the top 10 new gTLDs by registration volume: .xyz, .top, .loan, .club, .win, .online, .vip, .wang, .site and .bid.

As we all know by now, there’s a correlation (at least anecdotally) between volume, low price and low quality usage/abuse.

I’d love to see subsequent reports of this nature delve into smaller TLDs, including dot-brands, that may not have as many sales but may have greater engagement and more press coverage.

The full .CLUB/Meltwater report can be found here (pdf).

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Comments (6)

  1. Rahul Patel says:

    In my opinion both .Xyz and .Club are the new bestest gold…..gtld

  2. Jeffrey Sass says:

    Thanks, Kevin. You raise some good points, including not necessarily focusing on the top ten by registrations. This is the first report, and the goal is to repeat it over time, so we’ll definitely consider broadening the scope in the next round. We do think that media exposure such as that tracked by Meltwater, can be another directional indicator of domain usage. To be continued…

  3. THCNames says:

    This is a great point and says it all.

    “If these are the most prominent citations Meltwater could dig up over six months, these new gTLDs still have a way to go in terms of awareness.”

    It’s all TomFoolery to show high usage rates.

  4. It seems to be more marketing than methodology. The vast majority of active websites do not get mentioned in the media (however Meltwater define it). While .CLUB is doing well as a non-core gTLD, the influx of discounted Chinese registrations has had an effect. These discounted domain names tend to have lower renewal rates than full fee registrations. They also do not get developed and frequently end up on PPC or, in the case of many Chinese registrations, on lotto landers etc.

    There is a link between discounted registrations and low usage rates. I posted the statistics on this to one of the ICANN lists showing the effects of discounting on an otherwise stable and mature market in .COM TLD.

  5. Vivian says:

    In my opinion,i think both .top and .shop are the new bestest gtld: )

  6. Snoopy says:

    It is not real research when you pay someone.

    What else is this company going to find? Either they’ll just find .club is the best or they’ll find something else and the report will never see the light of day and the “research company” will get no more work.

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