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Domain Name Trends to Watch in the Coming Year

Domain Name Trends to Watch in the Coming Year

The Continued Rise of New gTLDs

The expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) beyond legacy gTLDs like .com, .net and .org is one of the biggest domain name trends in recent years. ICANN has steadily added hundreds of new gTLDs since 2012, with over 1500 now available. While early adoption was slow, many new gTLDs like .xyz, .top and .club have seen rising registration numbers as companies and individuals seek out more options.

We can expect the rise of new gTLDs to continue in the coming year as registries expand their marketing efforts and promote the unique branding opportunities of new domain extensions. More companies will likely begin migrating from .com to a domain that aligns with their brand, products or services. The increasing choice of domain extensions provides greater flexibility for finding a relevant, catchy and brandable domain name.

Some other new gTLD trends to watch are:

  • Continued gradual adoption of domain hacks using new gTLDs like .blog, .design and .photo. For example, foto.photo or blog.blog. This allows creating short, catchy memorable domains.
  • Increased usage of new gTLDs in non-English speaking markets. New gTLDs with language or locality themes like .paris, .tokyo and .wien (Vienna) are catching on in those regions.
  • More brands applying for and launching their own gTLDs for marketing purposes and user trust. Recent examples include .google, .apple and .microsoft. Owning a gTLD strengthens brand identity online.
  • A possible resurgence of geo-TLDs like .nyc with marketing campaigns to highlight their local significance and appeal to businesses in those regions.

The Expiry of Early Domain Registrations

Many domain names registered in the early days of the internet back in the 1990s and 2000s will start reaching their expiration dates and deletion in the next few years. Why? ICANN rules only allow domain registrations of 1-10 years at a time. So domains registered for the minimum period back over a decade ago will soon start dropping.

While some owners will renew their domains as expiry approaches, others will let them lapse, deliberately or unintentionally. This will free up many aged domains containing common dictionary words and short acronyms – valuable real estate on the internet.

Savvy domainers are already preparing for this opportunity by researching lists of upcoming domain expiries. Some domain name brokers are contacting current owners preemptively to offer brokerage services. When these domains drop, there will be much interest in snapping them up before others do. Unlike the early days of domaining, automatic drop-catching services now make expired domains available for immediate registration.

Domains deleting in the next year include both legacy gTLDs like .com and .net, as well as old new gTLD experiments like .info, .biz and .pro. Many were likely registered speculatively or are unused. Either way, their expiry represents a rare chance to get aged domains with existing traffic and links. For startups and new businesses, it’s the perfect time to acquire a high-quality domain name that aligns with your brand.

The Battle Against Cybersquatting Continues

Cybersquatting or domain name squatting – the practice of registering domain names related to trademarks with the intent of profiting from them – remains an ongoing nuisance for brands and trademark owners. Companies are often willing to pay high prices to buy back their brand name domains from cybersquatters.

In 2023, we can expect cybersquatting activity around new brands, products and services to continue just like in previous years. Trademark owners will keep playing whack-a-mole to reclaim domains from squatters. Some brands may turn to proxy services to stealthily acquire domains containing their brand name.

However, cybersquatting itself is getting more sophisticated too. Squatters are now focusing on typosquatting (registering common typos of brands like goggle.com or twiter.com) or brandjacking (using brands in domains in malicious ways). They also watch for new trademark applications to quickly register matching domains.

So brands will need to be proactive in monitoring for cybersquatting threats across all their trademarks and brand names, not just their main dot-com. Anti-cybersquatting policies and laws provide recourse, but prevention is always preferable. Knowing these risks are ongoing can help brands implement proactive domain name protection strategies.

Using Domain Names for Security

As cybercrime and attacks surge, domain names are increasingly being used as a vector for cybersecurity threats. Tactics like typosquatting, brandjacking, email spoofing and malicious redirects rely on registering domains similar to legitimate companies. Fake lookalike domains are used to distribute malware, harvest logins or steal sensitive data.

In response, organizations are realizing they need to pay more attention to their domain name security. Where previously domains were often an afterthought, now companies are being more careful about which domains they register and how they are used. Domain monitoring tools can detect dangerous lookalike domains. Some cybersecurity services are focused specifically on brand protection in the domain space.

Zero-trust models are leading to greater internal DNS security controls too. Separate internal domains allow stricter access controls versus sharing one domain for external and internal use. Browsers and email providers are also getting better at detecting spoofed domains to protect users.

Cybercriminals will keep probing for weaknesses though, so domain security is now an ongoing frontier in the cybersecurity battle. Expect domains to keep featuring heavily in future cyber attacks until stronger protections are implemented across the industry.

Domain Names for Web3 Projects

Web3 projects like cryptocurrency, NFTs and decentralized finance platforms have unique domain name needs and challenges. These projects rely heavily on domains both for their web presence and as part of their underlying infrastructure.

Most web3 projects are opting for .com over TLDs like .crypto. However, they face stiff competition from cybersquatters and rising .com prices. Some projects are forced to use obscure TLDs or change their name to find viable domains. This can hurt their brand identity. Cybersquatting also remains a big issue with speculators grabbing domains related to any new project or currency.

In web3, domains also serve critical security functions as part of wallet addresses, smart contract handles and blockchain URIs. Any spoofing of these domains can lead to stolen funds. So web3 founders are very cautious when choosing which domains to use for these assets.

Decentralized domains like Ethereum Name Service (ENS) aim to solve some of these issues by offering blockchain-based registration. But adoption is still gradual. In 2023, web3 services will likely push for greater controls and security around their domains – both their web presence and usage in core infrastructure.

The Surge in Domain Name Sales Continues

The domain name aftermarket has been on a bull run fueled by startups and investors seeking quality one-word domains. Sales on domain marketplaces like Sedo and Afternic have hit record highs, with many premium domains selling for 6 and 7 figure prices. Even ordinary domains are selling briskly to other domainers or end-users.

Several factors have driven this domain investing boom:

  • Greater awareness of domains as digital assets due to high profile sales and mainstream media coverage.
  • More startups launching who need domains for their branding before going public.
  • Domains seen as alternative assets and stores of value amid economic uncertainty.
  • Return seeking investors moving into domains as prices for top names keep rising.

This frenzy has spilled over into Web3 with high sales of blockchain domains and crypto/NFT related names. All signs point to the domain name aftermarket staying red-hot in 2023. Prices for the top premium domains will likely remain high due to ongoing demand and limited supply. While a market correction is always possible, there are currently no signs of a slowdown.

Using Domains as Metrics and Ranking Signals

The popularity of tools like SimilarWeb and Crunchbase highlights how domains themselves are being used as data sources for researching companies. Domain registration dates, histories and sales data offer useful insights for profiling businesses. Domain activity is also one of the ranking signals search engines use for assessing reputation and authority.

Forward-thinking businesses are realizing they should pay more attention to the metrics around their domain names and how this affects perception. Is my domain age and history positive or negative? Does the domain have any questionable past uses? What is the domain’s appraisal value? Answering these can avoid issues or help build credibility.

In 2023, we will see more companies checking their domain profiles and actively managing their domains as business assets. Whois privacy, which hides the owner details for a domain, will remain controversial as it conflicts with the transparency goals of this trend. But overall, the growth of domain data services reinforces domains as key online identifiers.

Rising Consumer Awareness of Domains

As domains gain prominence in matters like security and trademarks, average internet users are becoming more aware of their importance. Where domains were once technical jargon, now a broader segment of the public is starting to understand terms like registrar, ICANN and gTLDs.

Public demand for domains will expand the need for consumer domain features:

  • More registrars focusing on usability and streamlining domain search/purchase.
  • Continued innovation in services around domains – email, hosting, security etc.
  • Greater interest in protecting personal brand names in domains.
  • Tools to help the average user value, appraise or sell a domain.

This improving domain literacy can benefit the industry. Domainers are often seen as shady or predatory, so more public awareness demystifies domains as a standard digital asset class with legitimate use cases. This will lead to healthier growth.

Domain investing and development will still dominate growth. But the base of domain customers is starting to widen beyond just techies and entrepreneurs. Expect more consumer domain services tailored to ordinary users in future.

Closing Thoughts

These trends show that domains will keep increasing in importance on multiple fronts in 2023 – for branding, security, tech infrastructure, and as an investment vehicle. While legacy gTLDs like .com remain dominant, new gTLDs are carving out niche roles in specific markets.

Trademark owners face ongoing brand protection challenges as cybersquatters get more sophisticated. Meanwhile, the expiry of aged domains offers opportunities for startups and investors. The domain industry itself continues to expand, bringing this critical internet resource into the mainstream.

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