Defining “Success” for New gTLDs

Depending on your domain investments and business affiliations, there are a number of ways one can define “success” for the new gTLDs. I thought I’d share what I think are the various ways the new domain names could be considered a “success” and who would be happy with that success.

If I missed any scenarios here, you are welcome to share them, and as always, you are invited to offer your own feedback on this. At the moment I have no idea which scenarios are most or least likely, but I will continue to follow along from the sidelines.

Success scenarios for new gTLDs:

New TLD registry is in the black after the first year – There is a good chance that some new gTLD extensions will be very popular. Those are probably the most contended registries (and will be the most expensive to win), but there may be some big hits from uncontended new TLDs. This would be considered a success by the registry operators and ICANN. This may be a success for domain investors depending on the aftermarket.

New TLD is a flop with consumers, registry profitably acquired in X years – Let’s say that a new gTLD registry sells thousands of domain names but isn’t running a profitable business. The registry operator may choose to sell out to a larger company at a profit. This could happen because domain names have a long renewal tail and some companies would want the revenue and stream. A profitable exit would be considered a success for the registry operators and perhaps registrants, depending on price structure.

Healthy aftermarket forms for new gTLD – The registry sold thousands of domain names, and businesses and individuals want to buy various keywords that were previously purchased. Sedo, Afternic,, NameJet and other marketplaces see a demand for the gTLD. Domain investors would consider this a success, as would registry operators.

Google / Bing / Yahoo treat new gTLD like .com – One of the keys to a new gTLD extension’s success will be how Google and other search engines treat websites on those domain names. If they are treated like any other non-ccTLD extension, this will be good for those who build websites on them. This would be considered a success for registry operators, developers, and possibly domain investors who have more saleable assets.

Startup using new gTLD gets massive funding or exit – If an end user gets massive funding while using one of the new gTLDs, that would certainly be considered a success for the end user and it would likely be considered a success for the registry and ICANN. Positive publicity will help registries drive new registrations (see .IO for example) and it will help prove the value in the new TLDs.

New gTLD program is a massive flop with little adoption – Perhaps all of these new domain names and extensions will confuse consumers and businesses. Do I go to Boston.Lawyer or is it Lawyer.Boston? This could lead to very few registrations and lost revenue. The “naysayers” who have been posting on forums, blogs, and elsewhere might consider their efforts a success since they would have proven that there wasn’t a need or desire for the new TLDs.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Look at the sophistication this one godaddy initiative caused in regards to verification of emails. Can you imagine all the scammers, that are going to use these gtld’s to try, and steal info, and many of them are going to get stung by it, and they are going to avoid them like the plague. I think they are being pushed on a bit to quick, better planning is needed, on more sound releases, rather than mass expansion, but ICANN needs to line their pockets, so be it.

    • Or any subdomain for that matter. Most phishing I get is from clearly not correlated domains, like a message from HSBC pointing to a domain ending in laundry… so although there are phishers that prefer some more convincing domains, a lot of them don’t care and get away with it.

  2. @Elliot,

    I just can’t justify putting “gtld” and “after-market” together in the same sentence. I feel that they will have very little, if any, resale value.

    It is hard enough coming up with a good .com with only one word requiring a good meaning. With gtlds, now you will need two words that compliment each other. Most domains will fail that test alone.

    For example, what word compliments .tattoo well? Honestly, I am not sure. For argument’s purposes, let’s say “parlor” so now you have the domain name OK, now what? It’s ass-backwards and can easily be confused with tattoo.parlor (this may someday exist!) or was that Bottom line, these turkeys just ain’t gonna fly.

    I think it’s safe to define success as simply being in existence in a year or two. Just like it was soon apparent that .mobi, .aero, .museum and the others were all failures, the same will hold true here. I predict incredibly low interest and usage.

    • I worry about that, too.

      At this juncture, I don’t see why a company would pay for a premium .whatever when they may be able to get cheaper .whatever alternatives.

      I do think some words that complement .tattoo well would be:

      InkShop.Tattoo (names of tattoo shops)


      However, in my opinion, I think some registries like .Tattoo are more limited than others like .Shop or .App.

      You said “Just like it was soon apparent that .mobi, .aero, .museum and the others were all failures, the same will hold true here”

      However, right before that, you said “it’s safe to define success as simply being in existence in a year or two.”

      All of those registries that you mentioned as failures are still in existence.

  3. Elliot, with reference to this point “Google / Bing / Yahoo treat new gTLD like .com” you actually need the search engines to treat them completely differently from .com for there to be any SEO benefit from having the extensions.

    At the moment, the search engines use the right of the dot (.com, .cctld etc.) mainly as a geo targetting feature i.e. if it’s a domain then there’s a bit of a boost with respect to searchers in the UK. But the domain extension itself is not relevant from an SEO keyword point of view.

    For example, or One is “global” and one is “UK local” as seen by the search engines, which could have some effect on rankings – but in both cases the keywords being indexed are “tattoo” and “pictures”.

    Now consider If the search engines treat “.tattoo” like “just another gTLD” (which is what early hints they have been dropping suggest will happen) then the only keyword within that domain is “pictures”. The “.tattoo” part ends up on the cutting room floor from an SEO perspective since the keyword doesn’t get factored into the ranking algorithm (since domain extensions are treated as informational indicators, not keywords).

    • Put another way, all the following effectively contain the “same” keywords from an SEO point of view IF the search engines treat the new gTLD like they do .com:
      etc. etc.

      Across all 700 new gTLD the only keyword that the search engines will see is “pictures” in the case of “pictures.extension” so there are zero SEO benefits from having the extension suit the keyword.

      In fact, one can go even further and say that it could conceivably harm SEO. At the moment, a domain like has both essential keywords (if you’re targetting the keyphrase “tattoo pictures”). In other words, it’s an exact match to that keyphrase.

      For a new gTLD to be an exact match, you need to have keyphrase.extension so the exact match domain for “tattoo pictures” under the .tattoo gTLD would be “”

      Which of course just looks ridiculous…

  4. I would agree its hard to see a healthy aftermarket developing, the thing new domainers have to do is stay away from almost domains. If you can’t get the good domain, don’t find a way for something that is almost there. Almost can sometimes work in .com but its hard to sell them consistently there.

    If you can’t get, no Knight.CLUB is not cute or brandable, it makes little sense unless you are developing a website for Knights. But people will try to add a suffix or prefix and think their name is almost as good.

    There is going to be a new bus, I mean gtld coming every 15 minutes, if you can’t get the .tattoo you want, wait for the next string to go live that you like.

    If you are regging these more than likely you are your end user so don’t go crazy.

    Now to your point Elliot and its a good post, success is relative, there are many domainers who criticize .CO, its certainly been successful from a business standpoint for Juan and Lori Anne and their team.

    That is what domainers have to look at, these are all individual businesses, now 700 new businesses are joining the niche. They can make money while domainers registering their names never resell one domain for anything. They can try to reach to domainers and with low renewals make the extension more palpable for investors but that still won’t guarantee domainer success in the extension.

    Very good points on the SEO Edwin.

  5. How to define “success” for the new gTLDs? I’d say at this point the only definition that counts is that of ICANN and the “powers that be,” which was articulated (inadvertently?) by Juan Calle recently at:
    In its essence (quoting Juan): “You can’t break up a monopoly like .com by merely introducing a few other alternatives (like .travel, .pro, .biz, .info and .mobi). And you certainly can’t require those alternatives to play by the same set of rules as the big established monopoly. They won’t stand a chance. What you need is massive deregulation — and massive competition.”
    In other words, dot com is too dominant (in both registration numbers and values) in the eyes of ICANN et al, so to destroy that value and dominance, ICANN intends to flood the market. That is exactly what is going to happen over the next 12-24 months. Good Luck Domain Investors!

  6. Elliot,

    Very thoughtful analyses but it needed some tidying! I am particularly pleased to see the inclusion of the success of the aftermarket, which IMHO is one of the best indicators. As the VC saying goes, no exit, no entry!

    However, being in the black after one year is not necessarily a good measure. Although no one can predict unexpected changes in the gTLD environment, one year is not enough time to demonstrate, for example, Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm.” Thus, not necessarily a sign (for the new gTLDs community) to uncork the Champaign 🙁

    Being indexed by major search engines does not necessarily imply profits. But you are correct in that no indexing would be a troubling sign.

    A startup getting funding with a new gTLD is a good sign, but it does not necessarily mean the cause of the funding was the VCs’ belief in the success of the gTLD space.



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