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

Kevin Murphy, December 21, 2017, 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).

Verisign: 41% of new gTLD sites are parked

Kevin Murphy, August 13, 2014, Domain Registries

As much as 41% of domains registered in new gTLDs are parked with pay-per-click advertising, according to research carried out by Verisign.

That works out to over 540,000 domains, judging by the 1.3 million total I have on record from June 29, the day Verisign carried out the survey.

Domains classified as carrying “business” web sites — defined as “a website that shows commercial activity” — accounted for just 3% of the total, according to Verisign.

There are some big caveats, of course, not least of which is .xyz, which tends to skew any surveys based on “registered” names appearing in the zone file. Verisign noted:

XYZ.COM LLC (.xyz) has a high concentration of PPC websites as a result of a campaign that reportedly automatically registered XYZ domains to domain registrants in other TLDs unless they opted out of receiving the free domain name. After registration, these free names forward to a PPC site unless reconfigured by the end user registrant.

On June 29, .xyz had 225,159 domains in its zone file. I estimate somewhat over 200,000 of those names were most likely freebies and most likely parked.

The practice of registry parking, carried out most aggressively by Uniregistry and its affiliate North Sound, also threw off Verisign’s numbers.

Whereas most new gTLD registries reserve their premium names without adding them to the zone files, Uniregistry registers them via North Sound to park and promote them.

Tens of thousands of names have been registered in this way.

Coupled with the .xyz effect, this leads me to conclude that the number of domains registered by real registrants and parked with PPC is probably close to half of Verisign’s number.

That’s still one out of every five domains in new gTLDs, however.

Judging by a chart on Verisign’s blog, .photography appears to have the highest percentage of “business” use among the top 10 new gTLDs so far.

Verisign also found that 10% of the names it scanned redirect to a different domain. It classified these as redirects, rather than according to the content of their final destination.

Are these the 10 most-popular new gTLD domains?

Kevin Murphy, February 19, 2014, Domain Registries

I’m a firm believer that the success of new gTLDs will be measured not just in registration volumes but also in usage, and usage is a lot trickier to measure than domains under management.

One way of measuring usage that’s very familiar to many domainers is Alexa, the Amazon-owned web metrics service that uses toolbars and other data sources to rank web sites by popularity.

This kind of popularity data has been incorporated into TLD Health Check for some time, as one of many means to compare TLDs.

Alexa data isn’t perfect, but it is data, so I thought it might be interesting to see which of the 147 new gTLDs currently in the root are showing up in its daily list of the top one million domains.

There are 10 names, half of which are .guru domains, on yesterday’s list. There are not many functioning web sites yet, but for whatever reason these domains all, according to Alexa, have traffic.

These are the domains, with their popularity rank in parentheses:

www.link (356,406)

The highest-ranking new gTLD domain on our list is actually banned by ICANN due to the purported risk of name collisions.

It’s reserved by Uniregistry and will not resolve or be made available for registration for the foreseeable future.

I think what we’re looking at here is a case of somebody (or more likely lots of people) using www.link in web pages when they really should be using example.com.

beatport.singles (538,603)

Possible cybersquatting? Beatport (I’m old and unhip enough that I had to Google it) is an online electronic music store and the domain is registered via Go Daddy’s Domains By Proxy service.

The domain presumably refers to music “singles” rather than marital status, but it doesn’t seem to resolve from where I’m sitting. Quite why it’s getting traffic is beyond me. A typo in a URL somewhere? IP lawyers?

gtu.guru (589,205)

The first resolving name on our list leads to a work-in-progress Blogger blog. It’s registered to a chap in Gujarat, India, leading me to infer that GTU is Gujarat Technological University. Another squat?

seo.guru (671,647)

The first domainer on the list, I believe. The guy who registered seo.guru paid roughly $2,500 for it during Donuts’ first Early Access Program. It’s currently parked at Go Daddy.

I’d hazard a guess that it’s on the list because it’s a dream URL for an SEO professional (or charlatan, take your pick) and SEOs checking its availability are much more likely to have the Alexa toolbar installed.

deals.guru (790,778)

This one resolves to an under construction page.

I’d speculate that the pre-release $8,100 sale of deals.xyz caused a lot of domainers to check out whether the same second-level was available in other new gTLDs, spiking its traffic and causing an Alexa appearance.

nic.club (796,727)

The only registry-owned domain on our list — nic.club is the official registry web site of .CLUB Domains, which has its .club gTLD in sunrise until the end of March.

Is its appearance on the list indicative of strong pre-launch marketing or something else?

beekeeping.guru (857,778)

I’m not making this stuff up. This domain belongs to a British pest control company but resolves to a default Apache page. I can’t begin to guess why it’s getting traffic.

cp.wien (864,800)

An unregistered name in a sunrise gTLD. Possible name collision?

shop.camera (873,146)

Hot dang, we have a web site!

The domain shop.camera was only registered 10 days ago, but it already leads to what appears to be a fully-functioning Amazon affiliate site, complete with “Shop.Camera” branding.

freebitcoin.guru (994,404)

An email-gathering affiliate marketing site that I personally wouldn’t touch with yours. Still, it looks quite slick compared to the others on the list and it appears that the owner has made some effort to promote it.