Domain Industry Year in Review: Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

Barry Coughlan
Jan 18, 2017

2016 was a study in contrasting experiences across the domain industry. New gTLDs continued to launch, whilst those entering their second or third year started to mature. We saw some TLDs start to consolidate while others became leaders in their niche. The big China boom of 2015 was softened a little bit in 2016, but other emerging markets such as India continued to grow. As hackneyed as it sounds, the only constant this year was change!

Here at Dynadot, we're used to (and even like) the fast paced nature of the domain name world and are not immune to change. We continued to expand our operational capacity in our offices in San Mateo (California), Toronto (Canada), Beijing and Zhengzhou (China). We surpassed 500 TLDs available to register and continued to translate our website into several languages and add new currencies (CAD). 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for us, and as geeks for the domain industry we're excited for what the new year brings the industry.

Speaking of the industry, we reached out to some of our registry partners to ask them what they thought of 2016 in the domain industry and what they think will be the leading trend of 2017 which we've captured below. We've also created a 2016 year in review shareable infographic, which includes the quotes below and expanded highlights of our 2016 experience at Dynadot.

Kelly Hardy, Business Development Consultant, North America at .ME

How would you sum up 2016 for the domain industry?

2016 was a learning experience for the industry as we began to really understand the gap between how well we know domain names and the internet and how comfortable the general public is with change in the space. Hopefully 2017 will be a year of outreach, public education and bridge building between the domain industry and the public.

What do you think will be the leading trend of the domain industry in 2017?

I predict the leading trend of the domain industry in 2017, for registries will be finding our individual niches. I think we are going to see more TLDs pull away from trying to capture a broad, general customer base and focus more on groups and industries with whom we can add value and grow lasting relationships.

Sandeep Ramchandani, Vice President and Business Head, The Directi Group, Radix FZC

How would you sum up 2016 for the domain industry?

From 2016, we were encouraged by the shift we saw from most industry players completely writing off new domains, to many embracing them. Registrars have marketed nTLDs aggressively through the year, the number of premium names and average values are rising and the number of new domains sightings through outdoor and on TV medium has become more frequent.

What do you think will be the leading trend of the domain industry in 2017?

We are already seeing this but we will definitely see more consolidation in 2017. We expect many more smaller single TLD operators selling to portfolio operators. My second prediction would be new gTLDs being used more and getting more mainstream attention.

Kelly Campbell, Channel Manager at CIRA

How would you sum up 2016 for the domain industry?

We have spent so much time planning and discussing new gTLDs, but 2016 was the year that they became real. 1,000 new domain extensions were in-market and we were competing against them directly for the first time. This has been a test to the long-term resiliency of many ccTLDs and 2016 was the year that demonstrated that we at .CA can hold our own in a crowded market.

What do you think will be the leading trend of the domain industry in 2017?

We're seeing the lasting value that has been built online using stable and secure domains and I think that the key trend for 2017 is going to be about maintaining this security. Internet users are facing a new and more complex mix of cybersecurity threats and it's incumbent on us in the industry to help users navigate this new reality. Protecting our customers from DDoS, hacking, and online scams is going to be a necessity of the modern domain business.

Mason Cole, Vice President, Communications & Industry Relations at Donuts

How would you sum up 2016 for the domain industry?

The most significant trend of 2016, by far, was the more than 200% growth in the number of names registered in new gTLDs, which now total more than 27 million. The utility of these names has been solidly proven and they now are in use by the world’s top brands and organizations. A secondary but important trend is the emergent development of technologies that are adjacent to, or otherwise leverage, the domain name system infrastructure. Donuts invested in two companies last year that push these technologies forward, and we anticipate future opportunities to do so again.

What do you think will be the leading trend of the domain industry in 2017?

We’ve already seen some consolidation - Donuts bought .IRISH recently - and we’ll see additional consolidation as the year progresses. Registries that have employed different market penetration models will see some continue to perform well while others will reach a decision point on whether or not they’re effective over the long term. And, as we’ve said before, we also will see new ideas come from the namespace itself as registries and registrars find new ways to reach customers with emerging needs.

Post by Barry Coughlan