IDN Series Questions & Answers

A couple of weeks ago,   Aaron Krawitz and Gary Males wrote three guest posts on my blog about IDN domain names and investing in IDN domain names: Diversify Your Domain Portfolio: How IDNs are Registered in Punycode, Translating Domain Names, and Our Story: Aliasing and Times Square.

I followed these articles up with questions that I have about investing in IDNs, and Aaron and Gary have been kind enough to supply the answers. If you have additional questions, feel free to add them to the comment section, and I am sure they will be answered soon enough.

– What is the best way to monetize IDN domain names, and do you find the RPC to be in the same vicinity as non-IDN domain names?

Buying and flipping IDNs is the fastest way to make the most money off of IDNs, and the same can be said for ASCII/Latin domains.

As for parking, the IDN parking industry is not yet that mature, and as such there is plenty of room for improvement, innovation and increased competition.   But it is a big misconception that parking IDNs isn’t profitable at all.   As previously noted here, depending on the keyword and whether the underlying country is wealthy, there are payouts to be had of $5 to $7 per click.

As such, most people park their IDNs.   Namedrive has particularly good landing pages as they not only serve native language ads but also translate the entire landing page, which includes categories and menu options. There are also many affiliate programs out there that cater to foreign niches but I don’t see them used that often.

– Which will be more valuable the or the IDN.ccTLD?

It’s too early to call this one. But the answer no doubt will differ between markets and between ccTLDs.
In some countries, dot com is widely accepted and the ccTLD shunned, in other languages it is the opposite.
The questions is like predicting whether the dynamic will be closer to [English].com vs [English].us or [German].com vs [German].de, and it is too early to tell.
Personally, I have always advocated betting on both horses, and if your bets are hedged you can’t go wrong.

– What’s the best way to sell IDN domain names?

The majority of domainer to domainer sales occur at IDNForums.

I’ve personally been involved in brokering to non-domainer investors as well, which does not differ from selling ASCII/Latin domains.

We launched to bring some confidence to the process of buying IDNs, as we certify the translation of an IDN by using native speakers we work closely with.

I’m not aware of any mass brokering exercises in contacting native end users, but no doubt it is happening.   I think most people are waiting for awarenes of IDNs to peak.

– Do you know of any domain investors who have successfully developed IDN domain names, and can you share a few examples?

The most public example of a successfully developed IDN is a Thai language domain, you can read an in-depth case study here that explains how this site generated 68 million page views:

– Is there a website that tracks IDN domain sales, what are the top tier IDN names selling for these days?

We try to manually track the publicly announced IDN sales here.

Of late a lot of top sales have been dominated by German language IDNs, those Germans certainly love their IDNs!

– How much are the best IDN domain names selling for, and are most of the bigger sales end user sales or domainer to domainer?

Whether you’re looking at DNJournal sale prices or emailing the owners of top IDNs, the best names are selling for six figures.   From my experience, the bigger sales are domainer to non-domainer investor. This makes sense in today’s economic climate where there is a lot of money on the sidelines looking for alternative investments (other than stocks or real estate).

– When you receive an inquiry on a IDN domain name in a different language, how do you overcome the language barrier?

It always helps if you have native speaking contacts to assist you of course, but in the absence of that I simply use Google Translate, and I suspect so does the other party.

Tools such as Google Translate are just fine for translating non-English to English paragraphs, and you will more often than not get a clear idea as to what is being said.

I am also often surprised how many non-English speakers can read English decently, but can’t speak or write it.

– What needs to happen to make IDN domain names more of a mainstream investment vehicle?

The short answer is “more traffic”.

The longer solution has always been a 3 part answer.

1) Compatible browsers.   The last mainstream browser (Internet Explorer) became IDN compatible when IE7 released in 2007 – so to a large extent this is a non-issue.

2) IDN.IDN (or full IDN as it’s come to be known). ICANNs efforts on IDNing the part to the right of the dot are moving at high speed, although it should be noted that there are procedural hurdles ahead, and speed is all relative

3) Awareness. The launch of new IDN ccTLDs and the publicity that will be generated locally on the ground should correct this.

– Do domain investors need to rely on domainer to domainer sales to make money with IDN domain names?

In the short term, until the above issues 2 and 3 are resolved, the answer for most people will be yes.

Aaron Krawitz of IDNBlog and Gary Males of IDNDemystified, are guest authors of this IDN series on ElliotsBlog.   Aaron and Gary co-own   IDNDroplist, IDNTools and IDNNewsletter.

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. Regarding “- What’s the best way to sell IDN domain names? The majority of domainer to domainer sales occur at IDNForums.”

    Too bad that the IDNForums website is blocking my Verizon provided IP address (I’m getting the following message when I visit the site: “Sorry. The administrator has banned your IP address. To contact the administrator click here”) and the site’s admin is not answering my emails…

    I think Sedo is a much better option to sell IDN’s…

  2. @Levi

    Sedo would be a great place to sell IDNs, you are not alone in your thinking. Trouble is they cannot. Their technology can’t handle most characters, only German and a few other latin based languages.

    You can join the long list of people who have tirelessly tried to get this remedied over the years by contacting Sedo, but it seems it is beyond Sedo’s technical ability/will power.

    Re your IP address, I can only assume you are caught up in an IP range that has caused problems in the past.

    If you drop me a note via the contact form on I’ll get it resolved.

  3. My concern is that the IDNs presently out there will be invalidated when ICANN presents the IDN.IDN formated urls.

    Does anyone have insite into this and the transition period?

  4. @Maui – Just like new Latin ccTLDs don’t invalidate names, new IDN ccTLDs don’t invalidate IDN .com names. I’ve never heard this raised as a possibility.

    On the flip side, a key question is what additional ownership rights might be given to one who owns an, such as potentially being grandfathered into owning an IDN.IDN. ICANN has always said that this is a decision that will be left up to individual registries.

  5. @Maui

    With approx 1mm gTLD IDNs registered today, and many dating back to 2000, it would certainly be a cruel fate for all those people who have been patiently renewing year after year!

    It’s a simple question you ask, but a complex answer.

    Firstly, not all IDNs need a .IDN suffix, for one of two reasons, either because the language is latin based and therefore c-o-m etc appear on the keyboards; or because the English extn (i.e COM) is so popular and ingrained in that country/language that people have been switching language to English for years, as naturally as you or I would hit the shift key to uppercase a character mid sentence – the only missing ingredient is awareness.

    But there are some languages that need .IDN and without it, any legacy domains are severely handicapped. Languages that type Right-to-left for example.

    One of the founding investment reasons for IDN.[English extn] is that the registry would release an IDN version of that extension.

    As far as timelines are concerned, it looks like any .IDN gTLD extensions are held up in the same red tape and politics with the other new gTLD applications.

  6. Sedo has been fully supporting the vast majority of IDNs for a long time now.

    We are completing the support of chinese characters (and other so-called “multi-bytes” characters)… won’t be long now.

  7. @Sam

    Sedo fully supports parking of all IDNs, yes I absolutely agree.

    But as far as the ability to list for sale, you can handle very very few, and seem to be limited to a handful of accented characters; and even in some bizarre situations, can only handle a subset of an alphabet in some languages.

    This is extremely frustrating as you can imagine, and you can see the frustration first hand in a recent article on my blog at

    I think I speak for all IDN domain holders when I say I hope you will be true to your word of supporting the remainder of languages soon.

  8. Gary, we are definitely committed to fully support every single character on the planet very shortly.

    Our coverage however has been very broad for a long time. We fully support:
    * Afrikaans
    * Albanian
    * Breton
    * Catalan
    * Danish
    * English (UK and US)
    * Faroese
    * Galician
    * German
    * Icelandic
    * Irish (new orthography)
    * Italian
    * Kurdish (The Kurdish Unified Alphabet)
    * Latin (basic classical orthography)
    * Leonese
    * Luxembourgish (basic classical orthography)
    * Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk)
    * Occitan
    * Portuguese (Portuguese and Brazilian)
    * Rhaeto-Romanic
    * Scottish Gaelic
    * Spanish
    * Swahili
    * Swedish
    * Walloon
    * Basque

    We have full support of the following except for some extremely rare cases:

    # Dutch (missing IJ, ij but these should always be represented as IJ or ij in electronic form)
    # Estonian (missing Š, š, Ž, ž for loan words)
    # Old English and French (missing Œ, œ and the very rare Ÿ; they are generally replaced by ‘OE’ and ‘oe’ without the normally required ligature, and ‘Y’ without the diaeresis)
    # Finnish (missing Š, š, Ž, ž for loan words)
    # Hungarian (missing Ő, ő, Ű, ű)
    # Welsh (missing Ŵ, ŵ, Ŷ, ŷ)

    more info on this wiki page

    When you try to list a chinese character on you will indeed get a message saying such domain cannot be sold yet. I apologize for this annoyance and we’ll eliminate this restriction very shortly.

  9. >Our coverage however has been very broad for a long time. We
    >fully support:

    Gotta have that broad support for Swahili and Walloon!

    Far more important and popular languages than Russian Arabic Hebrew and Chinese!

    Another SEDO EPIC FAIL.

    Jesus wept.

  10. @Sam

    thank you for the feedback.

    I hear you on you saying you will eliminate the restriction shortly; but with respect, we have heard that same message delivered from half a dozen Sedo reps that turn up on IDNforums over the past 5 years.

    If you could even commit to a vague timetable, that would indeed be a huge step in the right direction, otherwise, quite frankly it’s just another hollow promise.

  11. The weird thing is, their web site is UTF-8, so it appears that the 5 year delay is trying to find someone who can convert a bunch of databases from ISO to Unicode – a 5 minute job.

  12. Sam,

    As others have mentioned we have been hearing about how Sedo would be fully supporting IDN sales for years now. 2 examples come to mind: A Sedo representative posted on a Japanese board in 2007 that there would soon be a Japanese version of the Sedo site at What happened? NADA. In Jan 2009 a Sedo rep posted on that a sales platform for Non Latin IDN sales was a ‘High Priority’… That was over a year ago and now you are pretty much telling us the same thing again. Don’t be surprised that I do not believe you.

    The demand for this is tremendous and someone is going to recognize the potential and act upon it. At this point Sedo has squandered any good will that it had. If someone else provides the service myself and many others will be there with open arms and we will do our best to make it a success.

    If Sedo still wants the IDN prize you had better start doing something concrete about it rather than continuing to feed us BS about ‘very shortly’. We don’t believe that anymore. Your window of opportunity is closing.

  13. Assuming your enduring support for Swahili* includes having a Swahili UI so all those Swahili businesses can buy their Swahili domains without having to learn English or German to do so, one would also have to assume that your upcoming support for Russian, Japanese etc etc will include the UI necessary for people who use those languages to get on your system and navigate through it to buy said domains?

    * and let’s not forget Walloon too!

  14. @Sam

    I see you’ve added the ability to now list all foreign language domains for sale – that’s great.

    Is this the end of your development?

    IMO there are 2 key elements missing:

    1) You haven’t made any changes to the Domain Search screen, so a prospective buyer still only has the option of choosing between English, German, French or Spanish.
    Suppose I wanted to list all Russian domains in the Shopping category. How would I do that?
    When adding a domain for sale, this info is populated (language & category) – so it surely must be easy to add that functionality?

    2) And probably the biggest barrier to entry is the User Interface itself, this needs to be multi-lingual to have any chance of success in marketing & selling IDNs to non-English speakers.

    Great start so far. I’m keen to hear your thoughts/plans for the remainder of the implementation.

  15. “Advanced” search at SEDO has always been a joke.

    Try getting a list of all the Spanish domains for sale.

    You get an error back “Please provide one or more additional criteria for your search: domain name or keyword, category, or date added.”

    So you set “Date added” to “last 3 months” and you get an error back “Please provide one or more additional criteria for your search: domain name or keyword, category, or date added.”

    The UI from hell.

    And THEN they take the “closing soon” auctions off the main page!

    What sort of IDIOT takes the closing soon auctions off the main page of a domain auction website?

  16. Gary,

    Re: you point #1

    Have a look it the new search on, we’ve expanded coverage for languages. Also the new semantic relevance algorithm should improve relevance, at least for the most common languages (we’ll expand to all languages with time)

  17. And THEN they take the “closing soon” auctions off the main page!

    What sort of IDIOT takes the closing soon auctions off the main page of a domain auction website?

    (Maybe Sam will se it this time)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts

Using AI For Background Image

I acquired a domain name last week, and once it transferred to GoDaddy, I set up a custom landing page using Carrd. Instead of...

It’s All About the Time You Put into It

A few years ago, my wife jokingly described my daily work lifestyle as leisurely. In some ways, I thought of that as a badge...

D3 to Host Invite-Only Dominion Conference

D3 is a relatively new entrant to the domain space, but it has a team with considerable domain industry expertise. In announcing its $5...

WWYD: One Word .CO or Two Word .com?

Trenton Hughes posted a domain name question that drew more than 50 replies in the last two days. Trenton is launching a business called...

Karen Bernstein Appointed as UDRP Panelist

Karen Bernstein is an Intellectual Property lawyer who has considerable domain industry expertise. Karen has been involved in the domain space for quite some...