Veteran domain name investor Rick Latona has been pushing ccTLDs recently on his blog. For those of you who have been living under a rock, ccTLD stands for “country code top-level domain”, and are two-letter extensions that are reserved for a country or dependent territory. Some examples of ccTLDs include .es (Spain), .fr (France), .de (Germany), .cn (China), and .us (United States). Wikipedia has a complete list of ccTLDs with an asterisk next to ones that allow foreign registrations, meaning you don’t have to be a resident of the country or have a business presence there to register a domain.
In Rick’s most recent post, he embeded a video one of his friends created called $3,000 a Day Domainer. His friend, who apparently wishes to remain anonymous at this point, claims to earn in excess of $3,000 a day by hand-registering and parking ccTLDs. He admits that he is telling us of this great business opportunity to increase awareness and in turn increase the value of his own portfolio, but it was thought-provoking nonetheless. The video includes screenshots from his Domain Management page at Sedo which proves the traffic and revenue, however the domains are blocked out which left most of us wondering: what category of domains does his ccTLD portfolio consist of? Is he sitting on a mountain of trademarked keywords? Are they mostly premium generic keywords? Geo domains? Are they mostly English, native language, or IDNs?
In addition to these questions, the video left me wondering how many domains it takes him to generate that kind of parking revenue and how much he spends in reg fees each year. I would also like to know what the best registrar for ccTLDs is in terms of price, features, and security. Finally, I would like to know which parking companies allow monetization of non-U.S. traffic and also support foreign languages. Hopefully the next installment will answer some of these tough questions, otherwise I’ll have to start doing some legwork to figure all this out. One thing is for sure though, my interest is piqued.
For the most part I have completely ignored ccTLDs when acquiring domains; probably 98% of our portfolio are .coms. However, I became interested in ccTLDs after I spent two weeks in Romania for Christmas and New Years. After a few days there I started to notice the complete absense of .coms on television, billboards, and radio. Every single domain name I saw the entire trip (and I saw a lot), ended in Romania’s ccTLD of .ro. When I got back to the states I tried to look up past recorded .ro sales on NameBio and DNSalePrice and could only find a handful. This is definitely an untapped market right now. I not only want to focus on ccTLDs for countries with large populations and fairly low (but rapidly rising) internet penetration, but I also want to focus on ccTLDs in countries that truly embrace their own extension (.de and .cn come to mind).
Sedo recently released its 2008 Domain Market Study which contains a division of the ccTLD sales through Sedo. It came as no surprise to me that .de (Germany) topped the list with 61% of all ccTLD sales (6,159). The .co.uk extension tied for second with .eu (European Union), each claiming 13% of ccTLD sales. Next came .es (Spain) at 4%, .fr (France) and .us (United States) tied at 3%, .nl at 2%, and .cn at 1%. I was surprised to see such a low number for the Chinese extension, I’ll have to keep that in mind.