“If you’re not paying for it, you are the product.”
That’s a maxim that has been doing the rounds on the internet for the last few years to describe services such as Facebook, which gets users in for free and then monetizes them to third parties.
It struck me today that this saying also applies to services that allow you to pre-register domain names in non-existent top-level domains.
If you’ve recently registered your interest in a domain in a new gTLD – example.web, say – you’ve gained nothing and potentially lost a lot.
Pre-registering creates two main benefits as I see it, and neither accrues to the registrant.
First, you’re now on the company’s mailing list. When your selected new gTLD(s) go live, the company you pre-registered with is going to try to convert you into a paying customer.
Second, you’ve just freely contributed information to an extremely valuable database, possibly to your own detriment.
When new gTLDs launch, many registries are going to reserve thousands of premium domains to either sell or auction at a later date, to periodically drum up interest in their extensions.
How will these companies decide which domains to add to their premium lists? A database of hundreds of thousands of pre-registrations would be a great place to start looking.
If you pre-register, what you may be doing is voting for your desired domain to be reserved by the registry, for possibly years, and then sold at a large premium.
Something to think about.