Global Domain Name Market in 2022: Overview

  • by Ilona K.
Global Domain Name Market in 2022: Overview

Table of contents

  1. The .com TLD
  2. nTLDs
  3. Third-level domains
  4. Forecasts for 2023

The global domain name market posted a 1.9% growth in 2022, despite the .com TLD (top-level domain) posting two quarters of losses for the first time in its history. Meanwhile, nTLDs (new top-level domains) are on the rise again. Will the same trend continue?

A recent research by Afniс, a French non-profit organisation managing the .fr ccTLD (a country-code top-level domain), gives a few interesting insights into the evolution of the global domain name market. Here are some key takeaways. 

In 2022, the global domain name market grew by 1.9% to 355 million names compared to a growth of 0.9% in 2021 and 1.3% in 2020. In a nutshell, the market looks like this:

  • 164 million .com names;
  • 31 million “Other Legacy TLD” names (.net, .org, .biz, .info, etc.);
  • 31 million “new TLD” names created from 2014 onwards;
  • 129 million names under ccTLDs (so-called “geographic” domains).

The .com TLD

The .com TLD experienced two consecutive quarters of losses in registrations for the first time in its history..com activity saw a 10% decline, which led to a 1% reduction in market share compared to 2021. Afnic experts attribute this trend to several factors:

  • The post-COVID “return to normal”.
  • Price increases in 2021 and 2022.
  • Refocusing of create operations.
  • Disposals of retained names.
  • Relative loss of interest in defensive and speculative operations.
  • The temporary effect of saturation.
  • The tense international situation.

All these factors are temporary and are unlikely to have a long-term impact on the performance of the .com TLD in the market. Afnic experts forecast the .com domain to resume its advance from the second half of 2023.

The good health of the .com domain in terms of create operations between 2018 and 2021 (+6% in 2018, +7% in 2019, +4% in 2020, +6% in 2021) was likely due, especially in 2020 and 2021, to users refocusing on the TLDs they knew best. Now the world has changed and requires other factors for growth.

Despite this setback, .com TLD boasts a leading total of 164 million by the end of 2022. With such impressive numbers, .com continues to dominate the market, both in terms of volume and growth, especially when compared to other Legacy TLDs.

Performance indicators for the major segments (2020 – 2022)

nTLDs

Meanwhile, nTLDs have shown a 7% increase in stock, a notable contrast to the losses of 9% in 2021 and 1% in 2020. However, this outcome is natural, considering the significant drop in nTLDs attributed to the “purge” of .ICU domains since 2019. Notably, 2022 saw no significant waves of domain creation, with nTLDs accounting for just 9% of the market share.

Yet, nTLDs have boosted their number of domain names by 2 million in comparison to 2021, reaching a total of 31 million by the close of 2022.

For a more comprehensive understanding of nTLD dynamics, it’s beneficial to examine them across distinct segments. Afnic experts categorise nTLDs based on their intended purpose rather than their official ICANN status:

  • Community: domain name filings reserved to members of a community, use being community-centric.
  • Geographic: nTLDs of a geographical character designing a city or region.
  • Generic: nTLDs consisting of generic terms.
  • Brands: TLDs corresponding in general to flagship brands, registered by private entities for internal use or extended to their customers and partners.
  • “Open” brands: TLDs corresponding to brands registered by businesses owning these brands and open to holders other than the business, its subsidiaries, or partners. These TLDs are few in number (two after the revision of the list in 2021: .CPA and .OVH) but the volumes registered make this a fully-fledged segment, comparable with that of generic TLDs.

Based on this segmentation, experts offer the following performance analysis of these “new TLD segments” in the market:

Performance of nTLD segments (2021 – 2022)

Over the past five years, global nTLD volume has consistently ranged between 25,000 and 30,000, demonstrating a slightly positive trend, and Afnic experts anticipate the possibility of this segment resuming growth in the second half of 2023.

Change in the number of names in nTLDs (2018-2022)

Third-level domains

While the .com TLD market is not performing well in comparison to the previous year and offers fewer opportunities for creating unique names, and the nTLD market, though growing, still doesn’t command a particularly large share, third-level domains offer a unique market opportunity.

Domains like those in the .it.com zone provide the advantages of TLDs while mitigating some of their disadvantages. 

The .com is the oldest and most popular domain zone for business. It’s been there for 34 years, and every year it gets more difficult to find a simple and aesthetically pleasing name in this TLD. All three-character domains in the .com zone were registered by 2000, and by 2007, this was the case for the four-letter ones as well. The prices for these domain names reflect the scarcity. 

Meanwhile, as the third-level domain names are steadily gaining popularity, there is still a wide range to choose from. Domains like .it.com offer the same advantages as the well-known .com TLD, including high recognition, absence of territorial constraints, and no association with a specific type of business.

While the multi-tiered nature of third-level domains is a turn-off for some entrepreneurs, who believe that a serious business should have a shorter name, a multi-level domain name may provide even better brand recognition (see some examples below) than a top-level but forgettable name.

Let’s take the example of some domain names in the .it.com zone.

Firstly, in this domain zone you can easily choose a suitable and memorable name for your website, since the zone is new and there is a large selection.

Secondly, domain names in the .it.com zone will immediately become self-explanatory, and your clients will easily identify the field of your activity. It’s perfect for IT companies or businesses in Italy. Consequently, this domain zone is both territorial and generic at the same time, expanding the range of your options for choosing the right name.

Finally, the .it.com is a fairly neutral second level domain that won’t confuse users. Few people would think that your website is just an additional element for another larger project.

List of example domains in the .it.com zone (status valid at the time of publication):

Catering business:

  • cafe.it.com (premium domain, available)
  • coffee.it.com (premium domain, available)
  • lunchtime.it.com (available)
  • eat.it.com (taken)

Retailers:

  • buy.it.com (taken)
  • shopping.it.com (taken)

Gyms, sportclubs:

  • do.it.com (premium domain, available)
  • sport.it.com (taken)

Education:

  • Learn.it.com (premium domain, available)

Forecasts for 2023

Change in main TLD segments (2015-2025)

According to Afnic experts’ predictions, the .com domain will resume its growth from the second half of 2023. Overall, most market segments are poised for growth in 2023, except for the .net domain, which implemented a price hike in February 2023, potentially disrupting its stability.

nTLDs, meanwhile, reached a plateau in the summer of 2022 after experiencing strong growth in 2021–2022. With the burden of deletions from the 2021–2022 creations behind them, they could see positive growth in 2023, potentially reaching 33-35 million.

Want to stay on top of domain name industry trends? Visit it.com Domains’ blog and contact  us on social media.

Ilona K.
Ilona K.
Share this post!

Read also

Featured Post 3 Google I/O 2024 Highlights for Entrepreneurs

Trends

Empowering Women Online

  • 3 min read
Empowering Women Online
How to Use TikTok Insights for Website Content