Friday, December 28, 2018

More Evidence of Year-End Spike in Numeric Domains

Last week we noted that two NNNN.com's were set for nice sales on GoDaddy.  4337 and 0480 have now closed, and both sales were strong given that each number has a "4" in it.  4337.com sold for $26,250, and 0480.com sold for $30,500.  We suggested that the numerics market may be experiencing a year-end bump in demand.

There's a bit of additional evidence for this in recent NNNNN.com sales.  The floor price for five digit domains, as reported on ShortNames.com, has risen from around $200 to $400 in recent weeks.  Now there are certainly not a lot of data points here, so take this with a grain of salt.  And it's quite possible the domains selling at auctions have simply been of higher quality in recent weeks.  But the domains in the bottom 5th percentile have shown some movement, so it's worth keeping an eye on this to see if it is a sustained shift.  It is also worth pointing out that while the bottom 5th has moved, the bottom 10th percentile has remained steady at around $400/$425.  So it may just be reflecting a temporary pause in auctions for the absolute worst of the five digit domains. 

So perhaps there is an end-of-year spike in demand for numeric domains.  But even if this is the case, the spike is certainly not showing up in character domains.  CCC.com minimum prices continue to fall, and seem set to close out the year below $200 (both at the bottom 5th and 10th).  Same with LLLL.com prices, which might close out the year below $100, having started 2018 at over $150.  Is this a portent of things to come in 2019?  We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

NNNN.com Sales to Close 2018 on High Note

There are two NNNN.com domains currently on auction at GoDaddy right now, 4337 and 0480.  Both have "4"s which are bad, but both also have repeating digits.  And both are currently set to close over $20,000.  I have also been receiving a number of offers for my NNNN.com's recently.  So something could be up.

Maybe it is just a year end bump, and 2019 will see a continued softening of the numeric domains market.  After all, NNNN.coms have already appreciated almost 100x in the last decade.  How much further can they go?

We will have to see.  With the stock market possibly continuing to struggle in 2019, it will be worth noting how alternative asset classes perform.  Numeric domains may be a "safe haven" of sorts, or they could fall along with the broader market.  It is worth noting that the last financial bubble bursting was in 2008-2009, which also saw a domain market bubble bursting in the aftermath of the LLLL.com and NNNNN.com buyouts. 

Will 2019 be a repeat of 2009?  Only time will tell.  But these recent strong numerics auctions for domains with "4"s suggests the domain market isn't ready to give in just yet.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What Were the Best Numbers 10 Years Ago?

Yesterday, we looked at the starting numbers of remaining 6n.com's.  Domains that start with "4" were by far the worst, with around 50k remaining.  Domains that start with an "8" were the most popular, with only 13.4k remaining.  The other popular strings were domains that start with a "1" (only 16.1k available), and domains that start with a "9" (only 17.8k available).

We thought it would be worthwhile to compare these results to the remaining 5n.com's that were around right before the first buyout, in February of 2008.   On February 11, 2008, there were 13,628 five digit .com domains remaining to be registered.  Within around a week, these would be all bought out.  But it's interesting to look at the domains remaining and see how many were left with each starting number:

Domains Starting with "0" - 2,832
Domains Starting with "1" - 0
Domains Starting with "2" - 336
Domains Starting with "3" - 1,058
Domains Starting with "4" - 2,920
Domains Starting with "5" - 1,588
Domains Starting with "6" - 2,040
Domains Starting with "7" - 1,522
Domains Starting with "8" - 1,070
Domains Starting with "9" - 262

What a difference a decade has made!  10 years ago, most domainers were western, and the most favored number sequences began with a "1" or a "2".  True, "4" was still the least popular, and "8" and "9" were fairly popular as well.  But looking at the recent numbers for 6n.com's, you can see a clear shift in preferences as Chinese domainers have become the biggest players in the numeric domain space.

Domains that start with a "0" were much less popular than they are now, as Chinese domainers don't seem to mind the "0" in front.  And domains that start with a "1" or "2" are not as favored as they once were.  It used to be that these were the "premium" numerics, presumably because they had more uses and google search results.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What Are the Best Starting Numbers?

One way to determine what the best numbers are is to look at registration data for 6n.com's.  Varyemez at Namepros recently posted a list of all 6n.com domains available (236,258 in total as of December 3rd).  Looking through the list, we can see how many of each starting number are still available.  The results are striking:

Domains Starting with "0" - 23,233 Available
Domains Starting with "1" - 16,139 Available
Domains Starting with "2" - 24,020 Available
Domains Starting with "3" - 22,838 Available
Domains Starting with "4" - 50,748 Available
Domains Starting with "5" - 21,991 Available
Domains Starting with "6" - 20,650 Available
Domains Starting with "7" - 25,434 Available
Domains Starting with "8" - 13,436 Available
Domains Starting with "9" - 17,769 Available

Everyone knows that "4" is the worst number in Chinese culture.  But at the same time, it is surprising to see just how significant the taboo on this number is.  Domains that start with a "4" are 2x more likely to be available for registration than even the next "worst" option, domains that start with a "7".

On the other hand, domains that start with an "8" are the least likely to be available for registration.  This is not surprising either, as "8" is the luckiest number in Chinese culture.  However, what is somewhat surprising is that the difference between domains that start with an "8" and the next best option, domains that start with a "1", is just a few thousand registrations.  There is a preference for domains that begin with an "8", but it isn't as stark as the distaste for domains that start with a "4".

Monday, December 17, 2018

Verisign Q3 2018 Report on .Com Registration

Verisign's Q3 2018 report is final, and shows another quarter of strong .com domain registration.  Total .com domains now registered is 137.6 million.

Here are the updated totals for the last several years (in millions), showing the percentage increases (or decreases) for each quarter:

137.6  Q3 2018  1.46%
135.6  Q2 2018  1.27%
133.9  Q1 2018  1.52%
131.9  Q4 2017  0.84%
130.8  Q3 2017  1.24%
129.2  Q2 2017  0.62%
128.4  Q1 2017  1.18%
126.9  Q4 2016  -1.17%
128.4  Q3 2016  0.71%
127.5  Q2 2016  0.71%
126.6  Q1 2016  2.10%
124     Q4 2015  3.25%
120.1  Q3 2015  1.35%
118.5  Q2 2015  0.59%
117.8  Q1 2015  1.90%
115.6  Q4 2014  0.61%
114.9  Q3 2014  1.06%
113.7  Q2 2014  0.44%
113.2  Q1 2014  1.07%
112     Q4 2013

So, we saw another quarter of very strong .com registration, and we are zeroing in on 140 million.  Should be at 150 million not too long after that if the trend holds up.

On the other hand, .net domain registration continues to weaken.  Total registration of .net domains is at 14.1 million, whereas it was around 16 million just a couple years ago.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

CC.Net Prices Have Barely Moved in 10 Years

We are going to take a look at some types of short .net domains to see how the value of these domains has held up over time.  Our general sense is that it has not fared well.  While registration continues apace for .net domains, it seems as though the proliferation of other extensions has hurt the position of .net as the "next best thing" after .coms, which it had throughout the prior decade (2000-2010).

We looked at "floor prices" of CC.nets, to see how these have changed over time.  The result?  Not much price change at all.  Here are the numbers, based on public auctions (and excluding domains with a zero or an O, which are often outliers in short character domains sales):

2007 - $2,000
2008 - $2,050
2009 - $1,495
2010 - $2,500
2011 - $1,650
2012 - $1,338
2013 - $2,000
2014 - $2,150
2015 - $2,000
2016 - $2,380
2017 - $2,311
2018 - $2,879

That's almost no change over more than 10 years.  CC.nets actually did seem to spike with the overheated domain market in 2016, and briefly commanded a floor price of $5,000 for the latter part of the year.  But they quickly came back down in 2017 when the bubble burst.  

How have CC.com domains done over the same time period?  In 2007, the base price for these was around $10,600.  Now it seems floor prices are in the mid $30k's.  But .nets have shown almost no movement.

We will continue to look at .net domains, and see if we can derive any lessons about the extension, and perhaps about price trends in short domains in general. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Why is 00567 Selling for More Than $60k??

It looks like the auction for 00567.com will end at more than $60,000.  And many are understandably asking why?  Some on Namepros suggested this is because of fake bids.  And it could very well be.

But looking at sales of other 00xxx.coms, it doesn't seem certain that the bids are fake.  Indeed, there have been 32 sales of 00xxx.com domains for more than $1,000!  That was surprising to see, as one might think that nobody wants domains that begin with zeros.  Apparently, Chinese domainers may feel differently.  

And 00234.com recently sold for nearly $10,000.  Like 00567, it starts with two zeros and then has three sequential numbers.  And 00567 has no "4" which might add even more to its value.

Still, $60,000 is a lot to pay for a 5n.com.  Possibly the highest price ever paid for one!  Will be exciting to see where this auction closes, and if we will learn any more about the reasons for the fierce bidding war.  


Is There a Gold-Silver Ratio for Short Letter Domains?

The ratio of gold to silver in the earth's crust is around 1:17.5.  Gold is harder to find, and accordingly goes for a higher price.  Notably, over time the price difference between gold and silver has often come close to the scarcity ratio.  Right now the gold/silver ratio is higher than it has been for some time, with silver significantly under-performing.  

This got us thinking.  Is there a similar ratio underlying the price difference between short domains?  If LLLL.com domains are 26x less scarce than LLL.com domains, should they go for 1/26th the price?

Here are some quick graphs of LLL.com and LLLL.com prices over the last decade.  The LLLL.com graph I made using a trailing median price for non-premium (western or Chinese) domains.  It doesn't track the "floor" prices, which the ShortNames.com graph below it does for LLL.com's.  But it seems to track reasonable prices for run-of-the-mill LLLL.com domains, and you can see the hype building in 2015 for both types of domains.












So what is the price ratio between LLL.com and LLLL.com domains?  Is it stable over time?  The data we're using is not perfect, and it might benefit from closer study.  But on a very rough basis, the LLL/LLLL ratio has been the following at various times:

2010: LLLL.com: $25-$40 LLL.com: $3,750-$5,000.  Ratio: 1/125-1/150
2016: LLLL.com: $250-$350 LLL.com: $17,500-$25,000.  Ratio: 1/70
2018: LLLL.com: $100-$150 LLL.com: $12,500-$15,000.  Ratio: 1/100-1/150

So it's definitely not 1/26.  And the ratio does seem to fluctuate a bit over time.  The ratio does seem to be noticeable worse than 1/26, suggesting that adding another letter does not only decrease the scarcity of a domain, but materially worsens its marketability.  If we could quantify that, it seems as though the adding of a fourth letter reduces the price further by a factor of about 3x-5x, compared to just the scarcity factor. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A Look at 6n.com Registration For Numbers 100,000-999,999

In order to get a better sense of the available 6n.com domains remaining, we ran some searches that only looked at domains between 100000.com and 999999.com.  Excluding domains that begin with zero, we should be able to learn more about how many 6n.com domains are registered. 

We were surprised to see that the numbers are not that far off from the total percentage of registered 6n.com domains.  After running 15 random bulk searches of 500 domains, we found that approximately 76.79% of 6n.com domains between 100000.com and 999999.com are already registered.  Or in other words, there are only about 23.21% of 6n.com domains in this range that are still available for registration.

We expected to see a much higher percentage of registered domains in this format.  Indeed, when we checked all available 6n.com domains (including domains that begin with zero), we actually got a slightly higher percentage of registered domains (77.5% vs. 76.9%).  It's definitely within the margin of error, so perhaps there is no preference for domains that begin with zero.  But still, it is surprising that there may be no material difference in preference between domains that begin with zero and domains that don't.  Hard to imagine, but that's what the numbers appear to suggest. 

There could be other factors at play here.  Perhaps domain expiration dates are playing a role, and some greater percentage of 6n's that start with zero will be dropped in the next year or so.  Or something else explains the difference.  Regardless, it's pretty interesting to see no clear preference for domains that start with numbers other than zero in the registration rates.  Will keep an eye on this as we monitor registration trends for 6n.com domains.

Update On Dot Com Registration

The most recent Verisign Domain Industry Brief, for Q2 2018, shows continued strong .com registration.  The last time we checked this, the Q4 2017 report showed that 131.9 million .com domains had been registered as of December 31, 2017.

The updated figure as of June 30, 2018, shows that 135.6 million .com domains were registered.  The prior quarter, ending March 31, 2018, ended with 133.9 million.  Both of these quarters showed strong .com registration as compared with the prior year.    DNPedia states that .com domains registered as of today is 137.1 million, which would suggest that the registration rate has slowed somewhat in the Q3 and Q4 2018.

Here are the updated totals so you can see how the rate of increase in recent quarters compares to the historical figures:

135.6  Q2 2018  1.27%
133.9  Q1 2018  1.52%
131.9 Q4 2017 0.84%
130.8 Q3 2017 1.24%
129.2 Q2 2017 0.62%
128.4 Q1 2017 1.18%
126.9 Q4 2016 -1.17%
128.4 Q3 2016 0.71%
127.5 Q2 2016 0.71%
126.6 Q1 2016 2.10%
124    Q4 2015 3.25%
120.1 Q3 2015 1.35%
118.5 Q2 2015 0.59%
117.8 Q1 2015 1.90%
115.6 Q4 2014 0.61%
114.9 Q3 2014 1.06%
113.7 Q2 2014 0.44%
113.2 Q1 2014 1.07%
112    Q4 2013

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Deep Dive into CCCC.com Domains

As we mentioned recently, registration continues to increase for 4-character .com domains (CCCC.com's).

To get a better picture of the CCCC.com landscape, we looked at all possible number-letter configurations.  The goal is to understand what is registered, and what is still available.  Here's what we came up with.  To start, the easy ones:

LLLL.com (456,976 Total) - 100% Registered
NNNN.com (10,000 Total) - 100% Registered
LNNN.com (26,000 Total) - 100% Registered
LLNN.com (67,600 Total) - 99.75% Registered
NNLL.com (67,600 Total) - 99.44% Registered
NNNL.com (26,000 Total) - 99.39% Registered

This is about what you would expect for these popular strings.  There were only a handful of LLNN.com and NNLL.com's available, so these are effectively bought out.  Now on to the next "tier" of these domains:

NLNN.com (26,000 Total) - 62.3% Registered
LLLN.com (175,760 Total) - 61.62% Registered
LNLN.com (67,600 Total) - 56.83% Registered
NLLL.com (175,760 Total) - 46% Registered
NNLN.com (26,000 Total) - 40.98% Registered
NLNL.com (67,600 Total) - 35.17% Registered

As you can see, there's a huge jump from the NNLL's to the NLNN.com's.  Now, for the bottom "tier" of CCCC.com's:

LNNL.com (67,600 Total) - 30.32% Registered
LLNL.com (175,760 Total) - 29.6% Registered
LNLL.com (175,760 Total) - 29.57% Registered
NLLN.com (67,600 Total) - 23.32% Registered

Some initial thoughts.  There is almost no correlation between scarcity of a string and its popularity.  Nor does it seem that any general rules can be derived, such as that domains which start with letters vs. numbers are more popular, or vice-versa.  It does seem that more domains that start with numbers are in the second tier vs. the third tier, but it's also true that the very worst string starts with a number.  So it is hard to draw much insight one way or another into whether numbers or letters are preferable.  It really seems like some strings are just more favored than others.

If you want a blast from the past, we also looked at CCCC.com registration 6 years ago and 10 years ago, and these prior results can be found here.  It's pretty neat to compare the numbers.  For example, in 2008, 27% of LLLN.com's were registered.  In 2012, only 36% were registered.  Now 61.62% are registered, which suggests that the registration pace has picked up a bit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Numerics in the Top 500 Global Sites

Ten years ago, we looked at pure numeric domains in the list of top global sites.  There were five (5) pure numerics in the top 500:

163.com (#51)
56.com (#73)
888.com (#153)
126.com (#307)
89.com (#397)

We just checked GTMetrix's list of the global top 1000 sites, and there are now thirteen (13) pure numerics in the top 500:

163.com (#15)
56.com (#47)
4399.com (#92)
126.com (#114)
39.net (#175)
2345.com (#189)
6.cn (#221)
5599.net (#222)
51.com (#282)
118114.cn (#338)
17173.com (#351)
8684.cn (#354)
115.com (#411)

A number of things are of interest in the lists.  For one, only three of the previous top 500 stuck around!

Another detail which seems noteworthy is that it's not just .com's any more, nor is it just 2- or 3-digit domains.  There are 6n's in the new list, as well as .net's and .cn's.  Finally, it goes without saying that the list is much longer now.  Numeric domains have increased their presence over the last decade, in large part due to the increasing access to internet in China.

Will be interesting to look again in 2028 and see how numeric domains are faring.

CCCC.com Registration Update

In January of this year we checked the available CCCC (4 character) .com domains.  There are 1,679,616 total of these domains.  When we checked in January, around 60% were registered.  That suggested that around 700,000 were available.

We just re-checked these, again using random bulk searches (20 searches of 500 domains each).  63.69% were registered, and 36.31% were available.  This comes out to around 609,822 available for registration, a noticeable drop since January. 

These domains certainly aren't going to be bought out any time soon, especially with a 3-4% annual increase in the registration rate.  Maybe around 2031.  But still interesting to see increased registration trends even in a sluggish market for short domains.

But there's another point to consider.  A reminder that the CCCC.com market is really several different markets.  It is comprised of the NNNN.com domains (10,000 of these), the LLLL.com domains (456,976 of these), and then the rest are "true" CCCC.com domains, meaning a mix of letters and numbers.  In this light, the annual increase in registration rate actually looks a little stronger.  We know that there are no changes in registration year-over-year for the NNNN's or the LLLL's, so we are really talking about a smaller pool of true CCCC.com domains.

When viewed in this light, the registration increase was actually around 7% in 2018.   If these rates were to hold steady, there could potentially be a buyout around 2025.

Monday, December 3, 2018

7n.com Registration Update

Yes, there are 10 million of these, and only a fraction are registered.  Still, it's interesting to look at whether people are registering and holding these domains.  When we last checked, in January of this year, about 3 percent were registered, meaning about 300,000 domains.

We looked again, and did 20 random bulk searches of 500 domains.  The results show a noticeable increase from earlier in the year.  Of all the domains we searched, 95.45% were available, so around 450,000 domains were registered.  This represents an increase of approximately 150,000 registered domains, or a 50% increase in the year.  Of course, this is within the margin of error, so it may not mean much, and we'll keep a close watch on these numbers. 

But if it does show a significant increase, it would suggest that 7N.com registration did even better than 6N.com registration in 2018 on an absolute basis, which is pretty remarkable.  Why would this be?  Due to the significant number of available 7N.com's, there is surely a much higher percentage of premium number strings, whereas for the 6N.com's, all the best numbers have been taken.  Suggests that the market may be preferring quality at this point.

Here are the results from the 20 bulk searches:

470 94.00%
481 96.20%
483 96.60%
467 93.40%
482 96.40%
491 98.20%
481 96.20%
483 96.60%
454 90.80%
484 96.80%
472 94.40%
478 95.60%
475 95.00%
478 95.60%
472 94.40%
482 96.40%
473 94.60%
477 95.40%
483 96.60%
479 95.80%


5 Letter .Com Registration Update

At the beginning of 2018, we checked how many 5 letter .com (LLLLL.com or 5L.com) domains were registered.  It came out that 29% of these domains were registered, meaning 71% were available.  In other words, out of the total pool of 5 letter .com domains (11,881,376 domains), this meant that about 3.5 million were registered (3,445,599 was the estimate).

Today, ran new bulk searches of random strings of 500 of these domains, and got an updated figure of 74.4% available, meaning that around 3 million were registered (3,041,632 is the estimate).

Here are the individual results of the bulk searches:

379 75.80%
373 74.60%
379 75.80%
379 75.80%
374 74.80%
383 76.60%
360 72.00%
373 74.60%
360 72.00%
367 73.40%
385 77.00%
375 75.00%
373 74.60%
358 71.60%
362 72.40%

This suggests that about half a million 5L.com domains that were registered at the beginning of 2018 are no longer registered.  This is not surprising given the bottoming out of prices in the LLLL.com market, and sluggish prices for shorter letter strings as well.  The letter domain market definitely appears to be in a worse slump than the number domain market in 2018.  At least 6n.com registration continues to expand.  Will be interesting to keep an eye on both of these markets in 2019, and see how registration trends shape up.