Registrations vs Traffic: How new gTLDs stack up

At Rightside, we are understandably very gung-ho about our own portfolio of new domain extensions, but the growth of gTLDs in general is also incredibly exciting. Vincent D’Angelo of CSC Digital Brand Services recently issued a report detailing the top 10 new gTLDs by registrations (with .XYZ at #1 by a wide margin), as well as data showing China now accounting for 36% of the market for new domain extensions.

But as the author notes in the report, digging a little further reveals that for all of the registration volume in China, the utilization of new gTLDs is lagging. In other words, while investment and speculation are going strong in the country, the number of websites generating traffic hasn’t yet matured.

D’Angelo illustrates this point using the Alexa 1M rankings as a stand-in for utilization. The CSC Alternative Top 10 calculates the number of times a domain extension shows up in Alexa’s million most trafficked sites versus the total number of registrations, essentially a ratio of high-traffic sites in each gTLD. On this metric, .MEDIA, .NEWS, and .TODAY are the three with the highest utilization, appearing in the Alexa 1M about four times as often as .XYZ per registration.

This isn’t a knock on any of the most registered domain extensions, it simply means there are gTLDs out there that, despite lower registration volume, are home to many websites offering content that actively engages audiences.

So what’s the significance of high utilization? It depends on who you ask. For end users, it shows that domain extensions like .SOCIAL, .SITE, and others in the Alternative Top 10 have real value as discovery tools. The memorability of a .NEWS domain extension, for instance, and its appeal to already established brands for complementary domain strategies, means that audiences are only going to get more and more comfortable navigating with new gTLDs.

For registrars and resellers, high registration volume is, of course, an important mark of success, but utilization can’t be ignored, either. A customer that utilizes a domain name—employing a website builder, setting up email, creating a storefront, purchasing security and privacy products—could result in a stream of revenue for years to come. Active websites also give additional exposure to new gTLDs, prompting more domain registrants to follow suit.

As an industry, higher registration volume for new domain extensions is a worthy goal, but also only part of the story. As we continue to educate the general public about the value of gTLDs, we need to be able to point to success stories to make a case for adoption. Popular, high-traffic websites are important to this effort, which is why getting utilization numbers up across the board needs to be an industry-wide objective.

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