Recent Growth. gtld Registries

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1 Recent Growth Trends within CENTR and gtld Registries Report prepared by Matthew Zook, Ph.D. data

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary... 4 Domain Name Industry Overlook... 6 Factors of Demand... 6 Distribution of Domains by Country and TLD... 7 Growth of gtlds and cctlds New Demand for Domains Adds Withdrawn Demand for Domains Deletes Overall Demand Net New Domains Conclusions Technical Appendix About the Data Definitions of Classifications Table of Figures Figure 1, Factors of Demand for Domain Names... 6 Figure 2, Cartogram of gtld and cctld Domains by Country... 8 Figure 3, Distribution of Total Domains by TLD* (August 2013)... 9 Figure 4, gtld and cctld* Domain Growth, Figure 5, Monthly Growth Rate, gtlds and cctlds* Figure 6, Absolute Monthly Increase, gtlds and cctlds* Figure 7, Indexed Growth of gtld and cctld* Figure 8, Indexed Disaggreagated cctld* Growth Figure 9, Indexed cctld* Growth, Aggregated by Regions Figure 10, Indexed cctld* Growth, Aggregated by Registry Size Figure 11, Possible Saturation Effect Scatter plot of cctld Domains per capita vs. Yearly Growth Rate for cctld Figure 12, Indexed Number of New gtld and cctld* Domains Figure 13, Indexed Number of New cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Regions i

3 Figure 14, Indexed Number of New cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Registry Size Figure 15, Indexed Number of New gtld and cctld* Domains, Compared to Indexed Global Trade Data Figure 16, Scatterplot of Indexed Number of New cctld registrations* vs. Indexed Global Trade Data Figure 17, Smoothed New Demand for cctld* vs. Indexed Global Trade Data Figure 18, Indexed Number of Deleted gtld and cctld* Domains, Figure 19, Indexed Number of Deleted gtld and cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Regions Figure 20, Indexed Number of Deleted gtld and cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Registry Size Figure 21, Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds* Figure 22, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds* Figure 23, Net New Domains for gtlds Figure 24, Indexed Net New Domains for gtlds Figure 25, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds* and gtlds Figure 26, Indexed Net New Domains for gtlds,.info disaggregated Figure 27, Indexed Net New Domains for.biz,.com,.mobi,. net and.org Figure 28, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds*, Aggregated by Regions Figure 29, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds*, Aggregated by Registry Size Figure 30, Indexed Net New Domains for.com, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Registries with > 3 Million Domains Figure 31, Launch of New gtlds ii

4 Executive Summary CENTR commissioned ZookNIC to analyze the growth patterns of CENTR cctld registries during the past five years. Key questions for this analysis include: 1) Is growth in cctlds slowing down? 2) Is there a specific moment in time when this slow down took place or has it been a graduate process since 2008? 3) To what extent are these changes tied to new demand for domains (adds) or withdrawn of demand (deletes)? 4) How does the experience of cctlds compare to gtlds? These questions were answered using data provided by 39 CENTR member cctld registries and gtlds (supplied by ZookNIC). Data included monthly figures for total domains, new domains and deleted domains from February 2008 to August 2013 (see technical appendix for further details). Key findings are: Question 1: The overall growth rate of domain names in cctlds has clearly slowed since The average increase in the latter half of 2013 of 264,000 domains per month is half the average increase of 528,000 evidenced in the first part of Question 2: In the case of cctlds, there is not one specific moment in time in which growth slowed; rather it has been a more long-term process. For gtlds January 2012 marks a particularly sharp contraction in growth. Growth in gtlds has rebounded since this point in time. Question 3 and 4: New demand for domains (adds) is correlated with macro-economic trends such as the 2008 financial crisis. Western European and/or larger TLDs (see technical appendix for definitions) have experienced relatively flat demand for new domains while Eastern European and mid-sized registries have seen relatively large increases in demand. Withdrawn demand (deletes) has increased faster than adds; this increase is larger in cctlds than gtlds. Eastern European TLDs have had the largest growth in deletes. The number of Net new domains has steadily decreased since 2008 in rough parity between gtld and cctld domains. The largest TLD,.com, remains one of the strongest TLDs for net new domains. Western European and/or larger TLDs (1 million+) exhibit slower relative and absolute growth compared to other regions and mid-sized cctlds. Page 4 of 38

5 About CENTR CENTR is the European cctld organization. CENTR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the interest of country code TLD managers. The objectives of CENTR are to promote and participate in the development of high standards and best practices among cctld Registries. CENTR has 51 Full members and 9 Associate members who all together represent around 80% of the total number of cctld domain name registrations worldwide. More about CENTR at Contact: About ZookNIC ZookNIC is a leading provider of data and analysis for the domain name industry. ZookNIC is headed by Dr. Matthew Zook who has consulted for domain name registries, registrars, registrants and analysts around the world since More about ZookNIC at Contact: Page 5 of 38

6 Domain Name Industry Overlook This section provides a broad overview of the current state of the domain name industry as well as defining the key concepts used by this report. Factors of Demand In order to best parse out the factors contributing to the growth (or contraction) of cctld registries it is useful to outline the factors of demand behind the overall size of domain holdings as well as some of the drivers behind them. In formulaic terms (and illustrated in Figure 1) the total number of domains in a registry at the end of a month is based on: Total Domains = Renews (or non-deletes) + News Deletes Figure 1, Factors of Demand for Domain Names It is useful to consider each of these three factors -- renews/non-deletes, news and deletes in turn to highlight the kinds of activities associated with each of them. First, renews/non-deletes are representative of Continued Demand for domains. While the uses of domains are as varied Page 6 of 38

7 as the Internet, this category represents decisions (both passive and active 1 ) of established businesses and other activities to continue to utilize domains as part of an ongoing strategy or effort. In contrast, the registration of a new domain is a clear indicator of New Demand for domains. While the exact goal of a new domain registration is varied (and not explored in this report) it represents a decision to engage in online activity at a higher level of visibility than previously. While a portion of the previous decade of growth can be tied to businesses or activities going online for the first time, this is a declining source of growth as domain name penetration rates increase (see Figure 11). Thus, it is more likely that New Demand reflects also decisions to register multiple domains for existing activities OR the emergence of new business or activities requiring a domain name. The last factor of demand is deleted domains which represent Withdrawn Demand for domains. Again the reasons for this withdrawal of demand are varied. It is clear, however, that deletes are tied to online activities or domain name strategies that are no longer deemed important (or profitable) enough by their owners to pay the relatively low maintenance cost of domains. This can range from closing down a website, taking the decision to no longer register variations or misspellings of one s principal domain, or changed strategies of domain monetization (eg payper-click). This switches domains from the Continued Demand category to Withdrawn Demand. The combination of these factors results in a final and key metric used in this report, namely Net New Domains defined by the monthly totals of New Demand (News) minus Withdrawn Demand (Deletes). Changes in the size of and positive/negative direction of Net New Domains are based on the evolving levels of new and withdrawn demand. It is useful to enumerate some of the possible issues associated with changes in demand. For example, to what extent are increases/decreases in New or Withdrawn Demand tied to decisions of businesses versus individuals? In the case of business demand, to what extent is it coming from small to medium enterprises versus large corporations? What is the effect of Domainers and pay-per-click operators on demand for domains? How do changes in search engine rankings and advertising payout affect these decisions? How have all these things evolved over time? While these questions are beyond the scope of this report it is useful to keep them in mind as the general patterns of new, withdrawn and net demand are laid out here. 1 Depending on the registry policy; some registries require the domain holder to renew the registration at the end of the registration period while with other registries a domain is in principle registered for an indefinite period until the domain holder decides he or she no longer wants to keep the name. Page 7 of 38

8 Distribution of Domains by Country and TLD Before reviewing changing levels in the factors in demand for domains it useful to analyze the current distribution of domains by country and TLD. In the cartogram presented in Figure 2, each circle is sized to represent the total number of cctld and gtld domains registered in a country (as labeled by their TLD). cctlds that have been repurposed as gtlds, Colombia (.co), Montenegro (.me), Tuvalu (.tv) etc., are not included in the data used in this visualization. This analysis clearly demonstrates the continued concentration of the domain name industry within the European and North American markets as well as a smaller agglomeration within the Asia- Pacific. Figure 2, Cartogram of gtld and cctld Domains by Country Source: Oxford Internet Institute using data from ZookNIC; Page 8 of 38

9 This finding is reinforced by Figure 3 which illustrates the distribution of all domains by TLD. The 246 million registered domains at the end of August 2013 (excluding.tk) remain highly concentrated in a few large registries with.com comprising 45 percent of all domains. While three other gtlds, net, org and info are in 3 rd, 5 th and 7 th position, the remaining top ranked TLDs represent CENTR cctld members --.de,.uk,.cn,.nl,.ru and.eu. These rankings with the exception of.cn which has had significant variation in size have remained remarkably stable over the past decade. The rest of the TLDs represent approximately a quarter of total domains and within these ranks sizes and growth rates have been much more diverse. Figure 3, Distribution of Total Domains by TLD* (August 2013) * Excludes the.tk TLD given its radically different business model. If included it would represent about 7 percent of all domains Page 9 of 38

10 Growth of gtlds and cctlds Shifting from the global patterns of the domain name market to changes over time, Figure 4 illustrates the absolute growth in domains in gtlds and cctlds provided by CENTR (see technical appendix). There were 149 million registered gtld domains in May 2013 and 69 million domains within CENTR associated registries participating in this research accounting for 70 percent of all cctlds in the world (excluding.tk). The scale of Figure 4, however, is such that changes in absolute growth are difficult to discern and compare between registry types. Therefore it is important to consider both changes in growth rate as well as indexed measures. Figure 4, gtld and cctld* Domain Growth, * CENTR provided TLDs Page 10 of 38

11 Figure 5 shows the monthly growth rate for gtlds and cctlds and a clear pattern of slower growth over time is evident in both categories. The peak in cctlds in late 2010 represents the launch of the.рф TLD. In some ways these lower growth rates are indicative of the success of the domain name industry as the base amount of domains in each registry grows making in mathematically more difficult to maintain a certain rate of growth. For example, an increase of 12,000 domains in a registry of 100,000 domains represents a 1 percent monthly increase but only a 0.5 percent monthly increase for a registry with 200,000 domains. Figure 5, Monthly Growth Rate, gtlds and cctlds* * CENTR provided TLDs Page 11 of 38

12 A clearer metric for comparing growth over time is the absolute monthly increase in domains (net new domains) illustrated in Figure 6 and highlighting a number of broad trends. First, gtld domains have considerably more month to month volatility then do cctld domains including a particularly sharp drop off in the absolute monthly increase at the beginning of 2008 during the financial crisis with a recovery in 2011 and Second, gtld domains experienced a second sharp drop at the beginning of 2012 followed by a smaller and more uncertain recovery in late 2012 and Third, the number of net new cctlds domains has been trending steadily downward during this entire time period. While there have been certain months in which the absolute numbers have increased (including the peak in November 2011 coinciding with the launch of.рф TLD) the average increase in the latter half of 2013 of 264,000 domains per month is half the average increase of 528,000 evidenced in the first part of Figure 6, Absolute Monthly Increase, gtlds and cctlds* * CENTR provided TLDs Page 12 of 38

13 An approach used throughout most of this report is evaluating indexed numbers over time. This both controls for scale (allowing for comparisons between TLDs regardless of size) as well as providing a comparable visual metric for growth. In all cases, the index is based on the size of a phenomenon (overall registrations, adds, deletes, etc.) as of February 2008 which is assigned a value of 100. For example, a value of 150 in Figure 7 (attained by cctlds in May 2011 and gtlds in May 2013) indicates that there were fifty percent more domains than was the case in February Thus, it is relatively easy to see that gtlds have been increasing in size at a slower pace than cctld domains during the past five years and even observe the kink in the indexed growth line for gtlds at the beginning of 2012 (marked by the red circle) 2. Figure 7, Indexed Growth of gtld and cctld* * CENTR provided TLDs 2 The drop in registrations within the.info gtld around this time (see Figure 26) is certainly a contributing factor to this kink (or change in growth rate) at the beginning of 2012 but the change is evident in the other gtlds as well. Page 13 of 38

14 The broad categories of gtld and cctld, however, mask great differences, particularly among cctlds; as Figure 8 aptly illustrates. Therefore this report uses two break-out aggregations based on the 1) regional location and 2) size of TLDs (see the technical appendix for details). While still conflating differences between individual registries, these categories provide a useful means of identifying meso-level patterns within registries. Figure 8, Indexed Disaggregated cctld* Growth * CENTR provided TLDs Page 14 of 38

15 Comparing registries grouped by region provides insight on some key differences within the cctld category. The groupings of Western and Eastern European are the most useful given that each category contains registries with relatively similar histories. Figure 9 illustrates the high degree of heterogeneity between regions with Eastern European cctlds experiencing much higher growth rates than their Western European counterparts. Figure 9, Indexed cctld* Growth, Aggregated by Regions * CENTR provided TLDs Page 15 of 38

16 Comparing registries grouped by size (as of August 2013) reveals similar patterns of difference. In Figure 10, mid-sized registries (250,000 to 1 million domains) had the highest growth rates followed by small registries with less than 250,000 domains. The largest registries had the lowest rates of growth which in part is a factor of their large size which, all things considered, makes it more challenging to achieve sustained levels of high growth. Figure 10, Indexed cctld* Growth, Aggregated by Registry Size * CENTR provided TLDs Page 16 of 38

17 New Demand for Domains Adds The next step in this report is examining each factor of demand separately. Given the lack of data for meaningful insight on sustained demand, this analysis focuses on New Demand (adds) and Withdrawn Demand (deletes). Before examining the specific patterns of adds it is useful to consider the effects of market saturation on domain name growth. In addition to the registry size effect on growth rates (see Figure 5), the number of domains registered per capita in a country is also associated with slower growth as demand from individuals and business first coming online is met. Figure 11 compares the number of cctld domains per capita in a country for a particular year with the growth rate for cctld domains in that country for that year. In other words, each cctld is represented multiple times for different years. While the pattern highlights the considerable diversity between registries (see also Figure 8) it also shows a statistically significant negative correlation between the two variables (r-squared = -0.14, p<0.05). In short, higher levels of cctld domains per capita are associated with slower growth. This is likely tied to a saturation effect of domain markets as the highest rates of growth take place when as a country's population first moves online. This is most evident in the lower right portion of Figure 11 where the highest yearly growth rates more than 30 percent per year took place in contexts with relatively low levels of domains per capita. Figure 11, Possible Saturation Effect Scatter plot of cctld Domains per capita vs. Yearly Growth Rate for cctld * CENTR provided cctlds individually measured on a yearly basis (n=155); Page 17 of 38

18 In addition to the overall effect of market saturation there is also considerable diversity over time. Figure 12 highlights temporal change and demonstrates that there is high positive, correlation between the number of new gtld and new cctld registrations (r-squared = 0.85, p<0.05). This means that while the monthly demand for new domains does diverge between gtlds and cctlds, there is a remarkable sameness within patterns of new demand for domains of all types. The drop off at the beginning of 2008 is shared as is the subsequent recovery throughout 2010 and Likewise, the drop in new demands in 2012 (highlighted by the red oval in Figure 12) is experienced by both cctlds and gtlds although the subsequent patterns have exhibited more diversity. Figure 12, Indexed Number of New gtld and cctld* Domains * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data Page 18 of 38

19 Looking at regional patterns within cctlds shows considerably less uniformity (see Figure 13). Eastern European TLDs have sustained growing levels of new demand while Western European registries have seen stable and even declining levels of new demand. Figure 13, Indexed Number of New cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Regions * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data, excluding.me &.рф Page 19 of 38

20 Examining the same data in terms of registry size classifications reveal that until 2012 all registries with more than 250,000 domains had relatively similar levels of new demand. Beginning in early 2012, however, new demand in midsized registries (250,000 to 1 million domains) grew considerably faster than larger registries. For example, the largest cctlds had approximately the same level of new demand in 2013 as was the case in 2008, while new demand in midsized registries was 150 percent greater than levels in Figure 14, Indexed Number of New cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Registry Size * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data, excluding.me &.рф Page 20 of 38

21 The patterns exhibited for new domains in Figure 12 are striking as they mirror changes in the global economy tied to the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent partial recovery. Figure 15 includes a third indexed metric for global trade and shows that new demand for domains closely tracks this measure of the world economy. Moreover, changes in new demand for domains seem to presage changes in global trade by approximately five to seven months. Figure 15, Indexed Number of New gtld and cctld* Domains, Compared to Indexed Global Trade Data * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data Page 21 of 38

22 Testing this relationship (see Figure 16) reveals that when the indexed values for new demand for cctlds are lagged by six months there is a strong and positive correlation with the levels of global trade (r-squared = 0.47, p<0.05). Figure 16, Scatterplot of Indexed Number of New cctld registrations* vs. Indexed Global Trade Data * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data Page 22 of 38

23 The close connection between new demand and global trade is even stronger when the new demand for domains data is smoothed to remove monthly variability. Using three, five and seven month averages, Figure 17 illustrates the close degree of tracking (with r-squares of 0.61, 0.68 and 0.73) between new demand for cctlds with global trade. This indicates a strong connection between macro-economic conditions and demand for domains with new demand occupying a possible predictive role in the relationship. Figure 17, Smoothed New Demand for cctld* vs. Indexed Global Trade Data * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data Page 23 of 38

24 Withdrawn Demand for Domains Deletes Withdrawn demand for domains (deletes) is the counterpart to new demand outlined in the previous section and exhibits a significantly different pattern. While withdrawn demand for cctld and gtld domains does not correlate as strongly with each other as new demand (see Figure 12) they do share a similar trend of an increasing number of deletes over the five year period of the study, albeit to different magnitudes. For example, in 2013, there were approximately fifty percent more deletes for gtlds than had been the case in 2008 while the number of cctld deletes doubled. Moreover, while month to month variation is evident, the general trend towards an increase in deletes contrasts with the more varied patterns within new demand with periods of both expansion and contraction. Figure 18, Indexed Number of Deleted gtld and cctld* Domains, * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable deletes data Page 24 of 38

25 Analyzing withdrawn demand at the regional level (see Figure 19) again reveals considerable variability between Eastern and Western Europe (see also Figure 9 and Figure 13). The number of deletes within Eastern European TLDs increased by more than 500 percent while deletes in Western Europe only increased by 50 percent 3. Figure 19, Indexed Number of Deleted gtld and cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Regions * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data, excluding.me &.рф 3 While this increase in deletes in Eastern Europe was shared by multiple cctlds there were also multiple registries in which the number of deletes remained steady during this time. Page 25 of 38

26 Aggregating cctlds on the basis of registry size (see Figure 20) reveals that deletes within registries of 250,000 to 3 million domains increased by about 150 percent while withdrawn demand in the largest registries only increased by approximately 50 percent. Figure 20, Indexed Number of Deleted gtld and cctld* Domains, Aggregated by Registry Size * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds data, excluding.me &.рф Page 26 of 38

27 Overall Demand Net New Domains The separate analysis of new and withdrawn demand for domains is useful as it highlights to important patterns across time and TLDs. First, new demand is highly variable with clear periods of contraction and expansion that corresponds to larger macro-economic trends. In contrast, withdrawn demand shows a steady expansion in terms of the total number of deletes. Combined, these two factors of demand create a general pattern of smaller absolute amounts of net new domains overtime albeit with some positive and negative spikes at particular moments. Figure 21 illustrates new demand (adds), withdrawn demand (deletes) and Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds in absolute terms. While New Demand has expanded during the past five years, withdrawn demand has increase faster, resulting in a smaller net amount of domains. Figure 21, Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds* * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds and deletes data, excluding.me &.рф Page 27 of 38

28 This decrease in the size of net new cctld domains is more clearly illustrated in Figure 22 which uses indexed rather than absolute numbers. The red arrow to the right highlights the steadily growing gap between the number of deletes and the number of adds within cctlds. Figure 22, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds* * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds and deletes data, excluding.me &.рф; Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 28 of 38

29 A similar exercise for gtlds is shown in Figure 23 (absolute numbers) and Figure 24 (indexed numbers). This reveals that gtlds have a much less regular pattern without as clear of a trend towards a lower number of net new domains as evidenced in cctlds. For example, the gap between Adds and Deletes is considerable smaller for gtlds (see Figure 24) than cctlds (Figure 22) and not nearly as regular. Figure 23, Net New Domains for gtlds Figure 24, Indexed Net New Domains for gtlds Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 29 of 38

30 Comparing the indexed net new domains for both cctlds and gtlds (drawing from Figure 22 and Figure 24) directly in the same graph (Figure 25) aptly illustrates the divergence in experiences including the periods of time from 2008 to 2009 as well as from late 2012 to present when the size of net new domains in cctlds and gtlds differed. It also shows points at which there are relative similarities such as the beginning of 2012 when both gtlds and cctlds experienced a fairly sizable decrease in net new domains, albeit with gtlds dropping significantly more. Figure 25, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds* and gtlds * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds and deletes data, excluding.me &.рф; Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 30 of 38

31 These broad categories, however, obscure significant differences among TLDs and it is important to disaggregate them to identify key points of divergence. For example, the.info TLD has a considerably different trajectory than other TLDs with a significant expansion from 2009 to 2011 and a more recent contraction in the number of registered domains (see Figure 26). Figure 26, Indexed Net New Domains for gtlds,.info disaggregated Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 31 of 38

32 With.info removed, the patterns of the remaining five gtlds come more sharply into focus in Figure 27. While.biz and.mobi show considerable variation as well (albeit not to the same extent as.info) the big three gtlds org, net and com exhibit a general uniformity in the number of net new domains. The trend has been generally downwards since 2008 but with growth periods (2010, 2011 and 2013) as well as times of decline in 2008 and Figure 27, Indexed Net New Domains for.biz,.com,.mobi,.net and.org Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 32 of 38

33 Likewise there are considerable differences and overlaps within number of net new domains for cctlds. Figure 28 shows that while TLDs within the Eastern and Western Europe region have differed in terms of new and withdrawn demand (see Figure 13 and Figure 19) they have relatively similar patterns in terms of net new domains. Both exhibit an overall decline from 2008 to 2012, although for the past 12 months their trends have diverged somewhat. Eastern Europe has exhibited some signs of increases in net new domains while Western Europe continues to experience a contraction in net new domains. Figure 28, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds*, Aggregated by Regions * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds and deletes data, excluding.me &.рф; Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 33 of 38

34 Comparing net new domains by cctld registry size (see Figure 29) reveals that the largest registries those with more than a million domains have experienced the most significant contraction in the number of net new domains. Midsize registries 250,000 to 1,000,000 domains are the one category that enjoys larger numbers of net new domains in 2013 than in Figure 29, Indexed Net New Domains for CENTR cctlds*, Aggregated by Registry Size * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds and deletes data, excluding.me &.рф; Data is smoothed using three month moving average Page 34 of 38

35 Bringing elements of these different classifications together, Figure 30 compares the number of net new domains for 1) the.com TLD, 2) Western Europe, 3) Eastern Europe and 4) cctlds with more than 3 million domains. Note: there is some overlap between the fourth category and the previous two categories. While the number of net new domains in these four categories is uniformly less in 2013 than in 2008 there is considerable variation among these classifications. The.com TLD is at 85 percent of its 2008 level while Western European TLDs is at 50 percent. Moreover, the trajectories for each category diverge from each other. The largest difference is within the.com TLD which experienced a large drop during the first six months of 2012 but has since been growing. This contrasts sharply with the steadily shrinking size of net new increases for Western European cctlds as well as cctlds with more than 3 million domains. Finally, Eastern European cctlds have paralleled Western European registries for most of this time period but since mid-2012 the size of net new domains in this region have begun to increase. Figure 30, Indexed Net New Domains for.com, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Registries with > 3 Million Domains * CENTR provided cctlds with reliable adds and deletes data, excluding.me &.рф; Data is smoothed using three month moving average; Note: regional and size classifications are overlapping and include certain registries in both categories Page 35 of 38

36 Conclusions The overall growth rate of domain names has been slowing since 2008 with the beginning of 2012 marking a particularly large contraction in growth (especially for gtlds). The extent of this decline varies considerable between TLDs as does its causes. Therefore this report highlights three possible reasons for these changes but does not directly measure their effects. The first possible cause is tied to the ongoing evolution of how internet search algorithms particularly Google's rank websites. Google makes many changes to its search algorithms including major named changes Google Panda (February 2011), Google Penguin (April 2012), Google Penguin 2.0 (May 2013) and Google Hummingbird (September 2013) as well as 500 or more smaller changes throughout any given year. 4 The SEO and pay-per-click industries are fundamentally dependent upon Google algorithms and any modifications quickly result in new tactics. For example, if Google's algorithm devalues keyword domain names this could translate into a shift away from domains registrations as a SEO strategy and thereby contribute to the observed decline in domain names at the beginning of Google, however, provides few details about its changes making it difficult to establish a clear timeline of possible cause that can be compared to domain name growth. Instead there are a few suggestive (although far from definitive) possibilities: December 2011, a "parked domain" detector is introduced to avoid showing sites "filled only with ads" 5 ; April 2012, "domain diversity" is highlighted as a goal to avoid "too many results from the same domain" 6 ; and September 2012, Google announced that it plans to "reduce low-quality 'exactmatch' domains in search results" 7. While these changes have been shown to have measurable effects on search engine results (particularly the September 2012 modifications 8 ) it is not possible to make a definitive link to changes in domain name growth. Moreover, the timing of known modifications to Google search algorithms does not match up well with the changes in domain names. A second possible cause of the decline in domain name growth is the opening up of new gtlds (see Figure 31). While it is beyond the scope of this report to establish a causal effect the timing matches well and it would seem reasonable to expect that a portion of those registering domains would shift their attention (and money) to applications for new gtlds. This seems all the more likely as the contraction at the beginning of 2012 was followed six to eight months later (as the extended timeline to new gtlds became clearer) by a return to growth. Thus, January 2012 marks a possible strategic realignment towards new gtld (and primarily away from old gtlds) but 2013 also marks a return to pre-2012 patterns https://twitter.com/mattcutts/status/ Page 36 of 38

37 Figure 31, Launch of New gtlds The third possible cause is based on correlation between new demand for domains (adds) and macro-economic trends. Significant contractions within the global economy such as the 2008 financial crisis resulted in reductions in new demand for domains and subsequent recovery in the economy (albeit partial) has been accompanied by increases in new demand for domains. Western European and/or larger TLDs have seen relatively flat demand for new domains while Eastern European and mid-sized registrars have seen large increases in absolute demand. Withdrawn demand for domains (or deletes) has increased at a faster rate than new demand than adds particularly in the case of cctlds. Eastern European TLDs have had more growth in deletes relative to other regions while mid-size registries have seen more significant increases than the largest registries. The number of net new domains has steadily decreased since 2008 in rough parity between gtld and cctld domains although significant differences exist within these broad categories. For example, cctlds have experienced a more steady decline in net new domains than has been the case for gtlds (see Figure 22 and Figure 24). At the end of the study period the.com TLD was the strongest TLDs in terms of net new domains relative to other TLDs even this its net increases was smaller than it had experiences in Western European and/or larger TLDs (1 million+) exhibit slower relative and absolute growth compared to other regions and mid-sized cctlds. Page 37 of 38

38 Technical Appendix This appendix contains a number of details about the data and classifications used in this analysis. Further questions can be directed to Matthew Zook About the Data 39 cctld registries provided CENTR with monthly figures for total domains, new domains and deleted domains from February 2008 to August ZookNIC provided the same data for gtld domains from February 2008 to May CPD World Trade Monitor provided trade data (www.cpb.nl/en/world-trade-monitor) for the analysis between demand for new domains and global macro-economic indicators. The number of deleted domains was either 1) provided directly from the registry or 2) calculated based on net change and new domains. All 39 cctld registries were used for total domains. 33 and 30 cctld registries were judged to have sufficiently reliable data to be used in the analysis of new and deleted domains. CENTR provided cctlds:.at,.au,.be,.bg,.ca,.ch,.cn,.cz,.de,.dk,.ee,.es,.eu,.fi,.fr,.hr,.il,.ir,.is,.it,.jp,.li,.lt,.lu,.lv,.me,.nl,.no,.nz,.pl,.pt,.rs,.ru,.рф,.se,.si,.sk,.tr,.ua, and.uk. Given its size and unique pattern of growth, the.cn registriy is not included in the analysis and graphs unless otherwise noted. gtlds: aero,.asia,.biz,.cat,.com,.coop,.info,.jobs,.mobi,.museum,.name,.net,.org,.post,.pro,.tel,.travel,.xxx. Given the size differences within gtlds, this analysis is limited to the big six gtlds - com, net, org, info, biz and mobi which possess more than 1 million domains. The only exception are Figure 3 and Figure 4. Definitions of Classifications In order to make comparisons between cctld registries it is useful to define a general set of classifications. A number of possibilities were explored including categorizing countries in terms of high, middle and low income based on the per capita income level of the associated country. The insight provided by this classification, however, was relatively small and is not included. Instead the two main categories used in this report are 1) registry size (as of August 2013) and 2) region. Registry size is based on number of registrations and is easily measured. Region reflects both geographical location and history and is most useful in reflecting a broad (albeit imperfect) division of European registries. The other two regions, Asia-Pacific and Other, are not particularly illuminating given the small number of registries and their dissimilarities. Eastern Europe:.bg,.cz,.ee,.hr,.lt,.lv,.me,.pl,.rs,.ru,.рф,.si,.sk,.tr,.ua Western Europe:.at,.be,.ch,.de,.dk,.es,.eu,.fi,.fr,.is,.it,.li,.lu,.nl,.no,.pt,.se,.uk Asia-Pacific:.au,.cn,.jp,.nz Other:.ca,.il,.ir Page 38 of 38

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