European ccTLD Domain Registrations Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels: CENTR

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The COVID-19 pandemic saw registrations for many top-level domains get a welcome boost after some years of limited or no growth. The two years of lockdowns and restrictions saw a sizeable number of businesses that did not have an online presence go online, and new business ideas were started. But now life has largely returned to normal, according to the latest CENTRstats Global TLD Report with European ccTLDs largely returning to registration rates that are consistent with long term averages.

At its peak in early 2021, the second CENTRstats Global TLD Report for 2022 finds there were roughly 17 newly registered domains for every 10 that were deleted or expired between April and June. More recently, this ratio has dropped back to 12 new domains for every 10 deletes, putting it closer to 2019’s figures. As a result net growth rates were down, however the reduction is largely driven by a return to average demand for new domains rather than an increase in deletes which the report states would be more worrying.

European ccTLDs grew at a median rate of 2.0% (CENTR30) in the 12 months to July 2022. The report looks at the impact of the pandemic on domain registrations in the region. One of the indicators the report looks at are churn rates (domains that were deleted or expired without renewal) and domain usage data which can give an insight into the extent to which new domains registered over 2020 and 2021 have been retained as well as how they are being used.

With domain registrations generally for at least 12 months, often more, it was a little early to fully assess churn rates for the report, but the indications are domains are not being deleted abnormally. Since mid-2021 the report found the churn rate seems to have declined slightly. In terms of how these domains are being used, the report saw very little increase in error or parking rates within European ccTLDs with, for the most part, European ccTLDs returning comfortably to pre-pandemic trends with minimal impact to registration demand. In the second quarter an estimated 44% of European ccTLD domains had a developed website – down slightly from the figure 12 months prior. The of the European ccTLD registrations were made up of parked domains (27%) and domains with DNS or other technical errors (29%).

Regional and Global Registration Trends

Globally the median growth rate of the top 300 largest TLDs (Global300) over the 12 months to July was 4.3%, which was down from its six-month average. Regionally there were variations. In the Asia Pacific ccTLD registrations were up 3.8% and among European ccTLDs registrations were up 2.9%. Among the top 300 generic TLDs, all of which were down on their six-month average, registrations increased 6.4% for the year.

Some of the highest growth gTLDs over the 12 months to April 2022 were .cyou, .click and .finance. However most domain names in these TLDs have very little web content and instead return DNS and HTTP errors. Based on the top 100, the most well used gTLDs when measured by active websites are .tel, .cat, .church, .earth and .berlin.

Domain Usage

The report highlights differences European ccTLDs and gTLDs in the way domain names are used. For European ccTLDs 44% had a developed website while for gTLDs the figure was 19%, and the figures for the parked websites was 27% for European ccTLDs and 23% for gTLDs and those not functioning or errors, the figures were 29% and 58% respectively. The figures highlight the greater number of gTLDs that registered for domain name investing.

And during the pandemic there were also differences with more of the new domains registered in European ccTLDs used for developed web sites while for gTLDs there were higher rates of speculation by domainers.

Other Highlights

In other findings:

  • the report found median growth was 2.0% in the year to July 2022, down from the six-month average, while the renewal ratio also fell below the six-month average to 83.6%.
  • growth was highest in the 12 months to July in .pt (Portugal), .is (Iceland), .dk (Denamrk), .ee (Estonia) and .ba (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • DNSSEC adoption rates remain low, but have been steadily increasing over time with the highest proportion of DNSSEC enabled domains in .no (Norway), .cz (Czech Republic), .nl (Netherlands), .se (Sweden) and .sk (Slovakia), each with having over half of their registrations signed
  • advertised prices of European ccTLD registrations have been increasing over the past 12 months with the median being €9.90 (incl. tax), up from €9.00 12 months prior.

The CENTRstats Global TLD Report can be downloaded from here [pdf], while the CENTR highlights are available here.

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