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ICANN’s new gTLD survey gives new gTLD awareness numbers

Kevin Murphy, June 2, 2015, 13:03:21 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN has released the results of a huge survey focusing on awareness and trust in gTLDs new and old.
The headline number is 46% — that’s the how many of the 6,144 international survey respondents said they were aware of new gTLDs.
The respondents were asked this question:

As you may or may not know, new domain name extensions are becoming available all the time. These new extensions are called new gTLDs.
Which of the following new gTLDs, if any, have you heard of? Please select all that apply.

They were presented with a list comprising .email, .photography, .link, .guru, .realtor, .club and .xyz. These were the biggest seven Latin-script new gTLDs when the survey was developed in January.
Tellingly, .email and .link stole the show, with 28% and 24% awareness respectively. The other five options ranged from 13% for .club to 5% for .xyz.
I think the numbers were influenced by some respondents not quite understanding the question. People are familiar with email and with links as internet concepts, which may have swayed the results.
Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division, acknowledged this potential problem in ICANN’s announcement last night, saying:

The survey found that domains with an implied purpose and functional associations, such as .EMAIL, were most often recalled by Internet users. While some of the drivers may be linked to familiarity and general association versus awareness of the extension, we believe it’s a signal that people are receptive to the names.

It’s also notable that, almost 15 years after launch, .biz and .info only have 50% awareness, according to the survey. For .mobi. .pro, .tel and .asia, all released between 2004 and 2008, the awareness was at 37%.
It’s not impossible that new 2012 round — which has generated thousands of headlines — has raised more awareness of new gTLDs.
The survey found that 38% of internet users who were aware of new gTLDs have visited a .email web site in the last year. The number was 28% for .link.
The survey also found that 52% of respondents would consider using a new gTLD if they were setting up a web site in the next six months. The number ranged from 40% for .email to 22% for .xyz.
Among the plethora of other findings, the survey discovered that only 92% of internet users have heard of .com.
Go figure.
The entire survey, carried out by Nielsen, can be found here.
UPDATE: This article was substantially revised a few hours after publication to remove references to the numbers being “nonsense”. This was due to my misreading of the survey questionnaire. My apologies for the confusion.

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Comments (10)

  1. kd says:

    I would love to have seen the results with a few bogus extensions in there. It would be the only way to know and get rid of the bias! If we don’t have this, we can’t ever trust the data!
    .startup (bogus gTLD)
    .freedom (bogus gTLD)
    .selfie (bogus gTLD)
    .drone (bogus gTLD)
    .nano (bogus gTLD)
    .vape (bogus gTLD)

  2. The numbers are wonky, but I think the awareness vs. visited discrepancy can be explained. Although not consistent in labeling, I believe the “visited” question was only asked of people that said they were aware of new TLDs.
    That said, the fact that so many people recognize .email when they really have few sites to visit is a red flag.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      You’re right. The notes on the relevant page of the report says “all qualified respondents” were asked, but that only refers to the first question. Scrolling down, it seems only “aware” respondents were asked the second question. I have revised the post accordingly.

    • John Berryhill says:

      Naw… those respondents are raptly anticipating the launch of a ‘verified email delivery service’ in order to get their important messages to brand owners. I hear it’s all the rage in some parts.

  3. Philip Corwin says:

    How was the sample selected? Hard to believe that 46% of global population is aware of new gTLDs. More than half of them not even online.
    Besides, isn’t real question how many of those aware want to register in them?

    • How the initial sample was selected is unknown to me, but when reviewing the questions it appears that all people that spend less than 1 hour per week on the internet or don’t know how much time they spend per week at all are skipped from the results:
      How many hours per week do you spend using the Internet?
      1. 0 hours to less than 1 hour [TERMINATE]
      2. 1-4 hours [TERMINATE]
      3. 5-10 hours
      4. 11-15 hours
      5. 16-20 hours
      6. More than 20 hours
      7. Don’t Know [TERMINATE]
      There may be a good reason for eliminating them, but saying that the overall awareness then is almost 50% is a bit too simple in my opinion.
      I liked, by the way, the differentiation in continents, having Asia, Africa an South America leading (~50%) followed at distance by Europe (33%) and North America (29%), see page 31 of the survey. And these numbers for North America and Europe are even pulled up by a high awareness in Mexico (50%) and Turkey (69%).

  4. I’m deeply cynical about such marketing surveys because they miss the critical aspect of new gTLD health: usage.
    People tend to be increasingly TLD unaware when it comes to anything outside their local ccTLD, .COM and the ccTLDs of adjacent markets.
    I don’t think that this survey takes into consideration the complexity of elements such as the geography of TLDs, the dynamics of TLD usage and the factors that govern registration patterns and domain name usage at a country or regional level. The survey seems to be trying to measure many different things under the heading of new gTLD awareness.

  5. Brad says:

    As someone who deals a lot in survey evidence, this survey would be rejected by any court (not saying they had to be so stringent, but it is worth mentioning). The examples kd gave are the correct way of going, but even that would still be a few questions down the line. You’d need to start with open-ended questions, not yes or no type questions designed (“as you may or may not know”) to make the respondent feel foolish if he says he doesn’t know. I would ask: Have you heard about new domain name extensions, otherwise known as gTLDs and can you explain what they are? Can you name any? Then: gTLDs are the letters to the right of the dot in a domain name, such as .com, or .net. Are you aware of any new ones that have come out recently, and if so, can you list the ones that come to mind? Then you can give a list and ask whether the respondent has heard of any of the list (with fake ones in the list). At least in the U.S., I’d be shocked if the actual recognition percentage you got was over 10%.

  6. ICANNs Garden Of Illusions, has been extremely efficient at one thing (DECEPTION) , These #s are quantifiably innaccurate, as are so many other of ICANNs released FICTION based studies. Both GOOGLE and ICANN who are closely tied affiliates Financially, are collusively cooking the #s for obvious reasons.
    GOOGLES Monopoly Model desperately needs Traffic Saturation dilution, that the new Quasi-derivative gTLDs provide in order to extend their monopolies shelf life.JAS 6/2/15
    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger) (Former Rockefeller IBEC Marketing Ananalyst/Strategist) (Licensed CBOE Commodity Hedge Strategist)

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