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What is Domain Tasting? History and Common Uses!

Brett McKay
Oct 2, 2020

The topic of domain tasting has had a controversial past, often tied to the ‘Add Grace Period’ (AGP) abuse in the early and mid 2000s. Before we get into its history, let’s answer the common question: what is domain tasting and what exactly is the 'Add Grace Period' for newly registered domains?


Domain tasting, in short, is registering a domain to test it for advertising/monetization potential, followed by utilizing the AGP to return that domain if it doesn’t meet the registrant’s (the user who registered the domain) desired criteria. Domains registered that meet the registrant’s requirements are often kept in their portfolio as a means of securing potential consistent revenue. For those unaware, the AGP refers to the policy in place that gives the registrant a certain number of days to reverse (or ‘return’) the registration of a domain – typically a 5 day period. Various TLDs have different rules associated with this grace period – such as the number of days allowed to utilize the AGP and the deletion fee associated with the return. But this deletion fee didn’t always exist, which created an opportunity for users to abuse domain tasting and started the previously mentioned controversy around the topic.



BRIEF HISTORY OF DOMAIN TASTING


In the early days of domain tasting (prior to 2008), the AGP saw frequent abuse. An exceptionally large percentage of domains registered were being returned/refunded using the grace period and domain tasting was at all time high. This was primarily due to the lack of any fees associated with the actual return, giving domain registrants the freedom to register and return with little to no repercussions. For example, between 2006-2007, some registrars saw over 90% of domain registrations occurring due to domain tasting. This freedom resulted in many opportunists jumping on board with the abuse as the profit potential was huge if they were efficient with testing and the right domains were found. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) were aware of the oversight created by the AGP and, in early 2008, a system was implemented to combat the registration influx.


ICANN implemented new provisions on domain tasting to slow down the frequent use of the AGP. ICANN's temporary solution was to have registrar's charged $0.20 USD per domain deleted that surpass the following conditions: 1) total number of domains deleted that passed 10 percent of that registrars monthly net new registrations, or 2) 50 domain names deleted in that month. When the temporary provision was fully implemented, the charge was increased based on the registration cost of that domain. As a result of these changes, registrars began implementing fees tied to grace deletions and domain tasting saw very dramatic decreases as AGP deletes were heavily lowered (by 99.7% in less than a year after the first provision was implemented). This made domain tasting overall much less common.



USES OF DOMAIN TASTING / ADD GRACE PERIOD


The AGP was originally implemented to give users leeway to return a domain in the scenario that the wrong domain was registered by mistake or unintentionally. As the internet evolved and evaluating domains changed, so did the use of the AGP. Users that utilize domain tasting are typically testing the domain for various monetization purposes. This includes the following:

  • Advertising potential for pay-per-click ads, generating revenue based on existing domain traffic

  • SEO domain authority/relevancy to assist with improving other website rankings

  • Discovering valuable domains to resell

  • Using domains for malicious use such as spamming

The domains commonly targeted for domain tasting typically include domains with: common misspellings (names close to a popular site for example), generic words that may receive search traffic, old expired names with some residual value, and type-in traffic (users who may type the domain name directly into their search bar).


DYNADOT AND GRACE DELETION


With the policy changes regarding domain tasting back in 2009, it is no longer the shady practice it once was and overall abuse of the AGP has been heavily reduced with the additional fees attached to returning a domain. At Dynadot, we support domain tasting and offer grace deletion services so you can test a domain to see if it fits your what you’re looking for or return a domain that you may have acquired accidently. You can visit our grace deletions page to learn more about the specifics regarding TLD grace delete prices and the timeframe you will have to make a grace deletion. Visit our help page to learn how to grace delete a newly registered domain. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our support team who would be happy to help!


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