David Goldstein - Snakes and Ladders: Changes At The Top For New gTLDs


    The top 3 new gTLDs by registration numbers have seen a bit of shuffling in recent months. First .xyz, which has lost around 4.5 million registrations in 2017, slipped below .top. But then .top had its slide too and all the while .loan as been adding registration numbers in spurts – 5,000 here, 160,000 there.

    So by the end of 2017, .xyz had regained its number one position, .loan had slid into number 2 position and .top had slipped from the top down to third position! It’s resembling a game of snakes and ladders!

    In the first 2 weeks of 2017 there has been even more movement due to deletions. .loan as climbed back up to first, .xyz slid down to second and .top has gone nowhere on the leaderboard. Today .loan has 2.402 million registrations, .xyz with 2.388 million and .top with 2.099 million. What appears to be the perennial fourth placed new gTLD these days is .club. But in many ways .club is more successful than most. There are no discounts, no free domains and registrations generally keep edging higher and higher. At the end of 2016 there were 920,000 .club registrations and at the end of 2017 there were 1.220 million. This compares to .xyz which went from 6.762 million to 2.260 million, .loan from 881,000 to 2.405 million and .top from 4.781 million to 2.167 million. Free and discounted promotions may get huge registrations, but the renewal rates are low.

    And as all these changes happened, total registrations plummeted during the year to 23.845 million from 27.714 million, with the peak in total registrations happening in April, just missing out on the 29.950 million mark by a few tens of thousands at 29.457 million, according to
    Looking ahead over the next few weeks, all of the top 3 have a large number of pending deletes - .loan has 289,000, .xyz has 279,000 and .top has 658,000 so expect total registration numbers in the new gTLDs to drop by at least one million as a result of these 3 new gTLDs alone. There are now 10 new gTLDs with over 500,000 registrations and 36 with more than 100,000

    The ups and downs of the new gTLDs is not unexpected though. The first were only introduced 3 years ago and there are many different models, some of which are working extraordinarily well. Some not and may even fail. And it’s not just registration numbers that make a successful new gTLD. For the 543 .brand new gTLDs that have launched, according to figures from the Dot Brand Observatory, it’s not about numbers. It’s about promoting the brand. And building trust with their customers. For visitors to a .brand website, they know the brand must be behind the .brand! Who else but BMW would be behind Audi too has used their new gTLD, registering domain names for over 500 of their service centres in Germany as well as to their external distribution partners and licensees over Germany according to the Dot Brand Observatory.

    These only have slightly over 8,600 domain names registered among them with 1,620 active websites. For the non-brands there are varying economies of scale and registration fees. And for the non-brands, they have to be used. Registrants sitting on domain names that are not being used are less likely to be re-registered.