2024 Domain Name Trends
- by Ilona K.
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Every new year comes with anticipation and predictions for the future – and the domain industry is no exception. As an ever-changing market, it continues to evolve and offer new opportunities. Discover the latest domain name trends that businesses can capitalize on in 2024 with it.com Domains.
2023 marked a historic moment as the .com domain zone lost its leadership position for the first time, giving way to new top-level domains (nTLDs) and subdomains. As a result, domain name owners got an opportunity to engage their audiences more effectively by incorporating various domain extensions. While this trend is expected to continue into 2024, here are five emerging opportunities to utilize in your domain name strategy.
Mega Deals Give Way to Affordable Solutions
To begin with, none of the top-25 most expensive domain name sales of all time happened in 2023 – unlike in 2022, when connect.com was sold for $10m. In fact, last year only three deals worth over $1m were recorded, down from nine in 2022 and eighteen in 2021.
As most $1m+ deals to date were happening in the over-saturated .com TLD, it’s no surprise that the adoption of the nTLDs and other affordable solutions make businesses reconsider making mega investments in their domain names.
However, it doesn’t mean that the market is slowing down – on the contrary, it’s expected to grow on average by 7% until 2030. However, it is shifting towards more affordable solutions and smaller-sized deals.
In the past three years there is a steady trend for sales below $100, with over 600 thousand deals of that size happening each year. For comparison, in the period between 2015 and 2018, less than 200 thousand domain name purchases below $100 were recorded on the global market on average. So where do businesses turn their eyes to?
Domain Name Strategy Diversification
nTLDs are regaining popularity and giving a boost to a trend for niche domains. TLDs (Top-Level Domains) such as .fashion, .travel, or .design are tailored to specific sectors, enhancing relevance and memorability for both businesses and users.
According to Name Stat, the fastest-growing new TLD with 691,307 registered domain names is .cloud. Although .cloud is not yet in the top 10 nTLDs in terms of the number of registered domain names, 2024 could mark its breakthrough into leadership positions.
Market also witnesses businesses willing to pay more for names in zones such as .online (7.7m registered domains), .site (6.1m), .shop (4.6m), and .club (4.4m). For example, betting.online sold for $400,000 was among the top 10 most expensive domains sold in 2023, with hello.app being #52, and ml.cloud on #73 on that list.
Additionally, in 2023 Sedo & InterNetX proposed businesses to turn attention to domain zones that may seem unconventional at first glance, like .it.com third-level domain. As investing a lot of money in a second-level domain name is not always an option, yet the name should still reflect the brand and be memorable, third-level zones provide website owners with additional opportunities to secure a unique and desired domain name.
Unlike the .com TLD, domain extensions such as .it.com still offer a broad range of domain names, the potential for implementing a domain hack, and the versatility to serve as universal domains suitable for any business. And speaking of domain hacks – what are the options for businesses to get creative with domain names in 2024?
Creativity and Personalization
As most lucrative (read – short) domain names are already taken or sold at very high prices, businesses have to get creative with their domain name strategies. From adding a verb like ‘get’ or ‘try’ at the beginning of business name to using keyword-rich domains or registering in alternative nTLDs or ccTLDs (country-code top-level domains), there are multiple ways to tackle the problem of over-saturation and unavailability of a desired domain name.
One trend to watch for 2024, domain hack approach has opened up opportunities to craft compelling web addresses that not only mirror the company name and business idea but also capture attention. Even Netflix has joined this trend. The company registered a domain hack movi.es, which redirected users to the company’s main website.
A domain hack involves integrating a domain zone into the domain name. You can forge a distinctive domain name using various domain suffixes, such as ca.fe or drink.it.com. A domain hack can be utilized for marketing purposes; you can incorporate a CTA (Call to Action) directly into the domain name such as buy.it.com. A notable example of using domain hack as CTA is a popular image generation website Open.AI.
This leads to domain name personalization – a higher-level trend making your domain a message itself. A personalized domain name that includes either the name of the owner or the company’s name contributes to a personal brand and building digital identity. For example, with a name in the .it.com zone, you can position your business as a part of a global IT community, communicating the identity through the domain name.
Individuals and businesses are recognizing the value of opting for personalized domain names that mirror their unique personality, so this trend is expected to continue into 2024.
Lookalike Domain Threats On the Rise
Where there are opportunities, there are always threats. A negative and hard-to-ignore trend creeping into 2024 is the surge of domain impersonations and the ways those are done. In a way, it’s about trends above in reverse: scammers use the rising popularity of nTLds and domain hacks to be creative with lookalike domains.
A lookalike domain is a type of cyber threat where scammers register altered domain names similar to those of legit companies, aiming to deceive users into thinking they are visiting a genuine website.
According to Fortra’s 2023 Domain Impersonation Report, in H1 2023 alone brands were targeted by an average of 39.4 lookalike domains each month, and this number is growing. Between May to June, researchers have recorded a 120% increase in the number of lookalike domains threats. Technology, retail, manufacturing and financial sectors are at the highest risk.
Why is this trend on a rise? In a traditional user’s mindset, a trusted website looks like ‘domainname.com’. However, with companies having to register a domain name slightly different from the business name (e.g. by adding a verb upfront) and with the wider adoption of nTLDs and domain hacks, users get more accustomed to varied combinations of domain name and zones. And the altered domains created by scammers look less and less suspicious to them.
How to protect yourself from this negative trend in 2024? Firstly, it’s important to adopt proactive defensive registration strategies, regularly conduct an audit of potential threats and take action against them. And if you are registering a new website, consider getting a domain name in the .it.com zone to capitalize on trust towards .com TLD.
With generative AI making a splash in 2023, our 2024 trends overview would not have been complete without looking at the impact of AI on the domain name industry.
First, we expect the .ai domain zone to continue its rapid growth in 2024. Owned by the government of Anguilla (funny fact!), .ai is in fact a country-code top level domain (ccTLD) rather than industry-specific nTLD for companies working with artificial intelligence. Yet, the latter are taking advantage of it to position themselves in this lucrative market.
In June 2022, .ai zone had just over 60k registered names. By the end of 2023, it had nearly 263k registered domains, with you.ai being the 4th most expensive domain sold last year for $700,000. Other domains such as stack.ai, npc.ai, service.ai and agents.ai were also in top-50 domain name sales of 2023, each sold for more than $100k. Even though .ai TLD currently occupies only 0.04% market share, it’s growing faster than most TLDs observed.
Secondly, there is now AI for everything – including domain name generation. Businesses can utilize various AI tools to find their perfect domain name (including the one in the .it.com zone). Make sure you fully capitalize on the AI trend in 2024 if you haven’t yet.
We’ll continue to monitor the industry in 2024 and we’ll share more trends and opportunities as they emerge to help your business succeed online.
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