16 December 2022FeaturesElisa Cooper

Report: Trends in corporate domain management

Modern times have presented new challenges impacting the corporate domain name management space. At the same time there has been a gradual changing of the guard as domain management pioneers begin to turn over the reins to the next generation.

In addition, legacy corporate registrars, which have led the field since the internet’s early days, are seeing increased customer demand for better technology and service, and newer registrars have come forward as attractive alternatives.

And more change is coming, as we continue to wait for a definitive timeline for the next round of top-level domains (TLDs). The domain name industry is certainly in a state of constant flux, making it an interesting arena, albeit unsettling at times.

In observance of this ever-changing environment, GoDaddy Corporate Domains (GCD) sought to gauge recent benchmarks and attitudes by conducting its Sixth Annual Corporate Domain Management Survey. The survey polled 500+ corporate domain name professionals from a variety of vertical categories such as retail, manufacturing, financial services, travel, and media.

The survey response was dominated by larger companies with large domain portfolios. In fact, 56% of survey respondents worked at companies which own 3,000+ domain names, and 29% were from companies with 10,000+ domain names.

Customers considering alternative options

Many companies have been with the same registrar for years, and by default, they have adopted a “set it and forget it” mentality. However, due to the difficult economic climate, domain professionals are questioning whether they are getting the most value, the best service, and the best technology from their registrars.

Evidence of “itchy feet”—willingness to walk away—is that this year’s survey found that a substantial 40% of respondents stated they would consider leaving their current registrar.

Registrars beware—clients, even those who have been loyal for years, may be questioning whether they want to stay on board or jump ship to another provider who offers better service, more innovative technology, and more favourable pricing.

Domain responsibility varies by portfolio size

This year’s survey showed that departmental responsibility for domain name management varied depending on the size of each organisation. For large companies with over 10,000 domain names, 40% of respondents said that Legal managed their domain portfolio, followed by IT at 33%. In contrast, for smaller organisations with less than 500 domain names, 75% of respondents said domains were managed by IT, followed by Marketing (12.5%), and IT + Marketing (12.5%).

Larger domain portfolios = greater complexity

When asked whether managing corporate domain name portfolios had become more difficult, easier, or stayed the same, the survey answers were dispersed. One constant was that, for those managing 10,000+ domains, 53% of respondents said it had either become “much more difficult” (20%) or a “little more difficult” (33%), proving the ongoing strain of managing larger portfolios.

Also, the survey asked domain professionals how much time they spend on domain name management and related tasks. Their answers ranged from less than one day per week to four to five days per week.

There was a direct correlation between size of domain portfolio and time required to manage it. For example, 100% of companies with over 500 domains said domain name management required more than one day per week. On the flip side, 53% of respondents with 10,000+ domain names said they spent four to five days per week on domain-related work.

The more domains the company has, the more time it takes to manage them, which makes good common sense. However, the complexity and variables that large companies face transcends far beyond the sheer number of domains.

Managers of large domain portfolios often cater to large brands, which are geographically dispersed across many countries. International brands may have dedicated country-code TLDs (ccTLDs) that in turn have unique registration requirements, which can add to the complexity of managing corporate portfolios.

Domain name managers for large companies must ensure that various domains resolve to the correct content. This can be a tedious and highly complex endeavour, making their jobs that much more demanding.

Interest in next TLD round/dotBrands likely to heat up

At present, we in the domain industry are still patiently waiting for the next round of generic TLDs (gTLDs). When the round does come, the influx of new gTLDs will bring exponentially more opportunities for companies to apply for their own dotBrand TLDs. But are companies anxious for the next round to arrive and are they ready to capitalise on it?

The survey showed a slight increase in interest for dotBrand TLDs compared to last year’s results. Of the overall respondents, 8% were “very likely” to apply for a dotBrand TLD, compared to 6% from last year, and 14% said they were “likely” to apply for a dotBrand TLD, compared to 10% last year.

Interest in the next round may appear tepid now. However, based on what I am hearing from clients and colleagues, I am certain that interest will heat up once ICANN releases a definitive timeline for the round’s official rollout.

Domain challenges continue and expand

Last year’s survey highlighted that the impact of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was the biggest challenge facing domain name professionals, with 45% of respondents naming it their #1 issue. While GDPR still led the field of challenges for this year’s survey, it lessened to 39%. Perhaps this decrease indicates that companies have a better handle on GDPR-related issues, which is a step in the right direction.

On the threat front, 31% stated that dealing with abusive domain registrations presented a major challenge this year, compared to 3% last year. Paring back bloated portfolios as a challenge remained fairly stable at 29%, compared to last year’s 27%. Interestingly, 21% of respondents stated that understanding and dealing with blockchain domains presented the greatest challenge.

Companies must stay vigilant on security

This year’s survey showed that there is no room for relaxing on security—vigilance is still warranted. Domain names will always be a target leveraged by fraudsters who wish to harm and discredit competitors’ brands. No rest for the weary on security, and as hackers and bad actors continue to become more creative, this forced march will persist.

The survey results showed that the #1 key goal for domain name professionals is ensuring that domain names remain secure, with 86% of respondents identifying it as an extremely important goal. Forty-five percent of respondents stated that defensively registering domains was an extremely important goal and 43% stated that directing traffic to relevant content was an extremely important goal. Only 26% stated that reducing domain name expenditures was an extremely important goal.

Main takeaways of the domain name survey

This year’s survey portrayed a dynamic domain name industry full of dedicated professionals who are struggling with a variety of challenges and decisions. Registrars will have to step up their proverbial game to keep clients from leaving for better value and service as they reconsider their options.

Large domain portfolio managers continue to shoulder the most substantial workload in the field due to sheer volume, as well as global complexity issues. Domain managers are showing interest in the next round of gTLDs and dotBrands TLDs now, and I am predicting the momentum will swell once ICANN releases a committed timeline for the rollout.

GDPR remains the top challenge facing domain professionals, though high numbers were reported for abusive registrations and blockchain, too. Again, security remained the most critically important goal where domains are concerned, with all other objectives following in its wake.

Overall, 2023 is poised to be a very productive year for domain name professionals, despite the many obstacles they will surely face. The GCD team has learned a lot from the Survey’s findings, which will help us better support our clients in the new year.

Elisa Cooper is head of marketing at GoDaddy Corporate Domains (GCD). A domain name industry veteran, Elisa has worked closely with many Fortune 1000 companies in assisting with domain and brand protection policy development, and she has spoken and written extensively on these topics.She can be contacted at:

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