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The year 2021 was very strong in aftermarket domain name sales, with strong prices, rising numbers of sales, and solidly higher dollar volumes.

Across all extensions, there were more sales in 2021 than in 2020, about 150,800 versus 127,500. The average price increased as well, from $936 to $1185. As a result, the dollar sales volume went up by 49.7% in 2021.

Since the average price is very sensitive to a few large sales, and the number of sales may be strongly influenced by an increase in wholesale transactions, the total dollar volume is probably the best indicator of overall strength.

When we compare 2021 to 2020, dollar volume was up substantially in all 3 major legacy extensions, in country code extensions taken as a whole, and in new global extensions (new gTLDs).

OverallPercentageIncrease.png


This analysis is based on over 178 million dollars in sales in 2021. I did computations for 68 different extensions, although not quite all results were significant enough to be reported here.

I used NameBio data for this analysis, including all sales of $100 and up. Keep in mind that by no means all sales are included in NameBio. Also, reported sales are a mix of wholesale acquisitions by domain name investors, and retail sales to end users.

The Major Legacy Extensions

If we consider .com only, the number of reported aftermarket sales increased by 18.1% in 2021, and the dollar volume increased 51.2%.

In 2021 the average prices in .net and .org at $1278 and $1015 were similar to .com at $1119. Prices increased compared to 2020 for both .net and .org.

The number of sales was almost constant across the two years in .net, while number of .org sales was up 9.7%.

Both .net and .org were up in in total dollar volume, by 35.1% and 23.9% respectively.

Additional Legacy Extensions
  • The .info TLD had 398 reported sales in 2021 with an average sales price of $472, not much changed from 2020.
  • The number of sales in the .biz extension was down 13.2%, but sales volume was up 42.4% due to a significant rise in average price.
  • The .pro extension had a modest increase in number of reported sales, 53 in 2021. The average price in the TLD was down, however, so sales volume was approximately constant.
  • There were only 23 recorded sales in the.mobi extension in 2021, with sales volume down more than 50%.

Country Code Extensions Have Strong 2021

Country code extensions were strong in 2020, and that continued in 2021. There were 19.2% more sales in country code extensions reported in NameBio in 2021 compared to 2020. The total dollar volume was also up, by 42.7%.

The average price across all country codes increased from $1686 in 2020 to $2018 in 2021, significantly higher than for the legacy extensions. The higher average prices in country code sales may partially be explained by a higher ratio of retail to wholesale transactions.

I show the percentage sales volume increase for country code extensions that had at least 50 sales in the graph below. Note that the scale on the graph is different from the overall percentage graph shown earlier.

CountryPercentageIncrease.png


Comparing 2021 to 2020, .co more than doubled in sales volume, and .io almost tripled, now representing more than $4.1 million in annual .io sales.

The .tv extension had been down 2020 compared to 2019, but bounced back in 2021, with significant increases in both numbers and sales volume which was up 66%.

The .vc extension had begun to grow in 2020, and had a stellar 2021. The number of NameBio-reported sales grew from 77 to 172, and the average price from $675 to $1854. As a result, sales volume increased more than sixfold.

While it is interesting to look at year over year changes in sales volumes, it is also important to see the overall sales volume data. This is shown below for country code extensions that had 50 or more reported sales in 2021, to about $319,000 in 2021.

CCVolumeBreakdown.png


Overall, country code extension sales volume was $18.5 million in 2021, up 42.7%.

New Domain Extensions

Taken as a whole, aftermarket sales of new domain extensions were up 144% in number, from 1046 sales in 2020 to 2555 in 2021, and up 119% in sales volume to about $5.1 million in 2021.

The percentage volume increase for new extensions with significant sales numbers in 2021 is shown below. Note the change in scale from previous graphs. Also, the two TLDs marked with an arrow would be substantially off scale, with the volume in .world 49-fold higher in 2021, and the .art extension up more than 30x in sales volume.

NewPercentageIncrease.png


The rise of .xyz, that had started in last year’s report, really took off in 2021. The number of NameBio reported .xyz sales went from 97 to 563. The average price also took a jump, from $1118 to $3373 in 2021. As a result, the sales volume in .xyz increased from just over $108 thousand in 2020 to $1.9 million in 2021.

I broke down the sales volume by new extension for TLDs with $30,000 or more in 2021 sales, excluding a few extensions where the total was based on essentially one reported large sale.

newgTLDVolumeBreakdown.png


Unlike the situation some years ago, there are few registry sales in these numbers for most extensions. New gTLD share of the domain market would be significantly higher if the premium sales were included. There are some registry .club sales included, and possibly some .art.

While .app remained a significant player among new extensions, in 2021 sales were up in numbers but down slightly in sales volume.

The .club extension continued strong, up in both number of sales and average price, $3440 in 2021. As a result sales volume in the extension doubled to just over $729,000.

Probably driven by the interest in NFTs, the .art extension went from only 4 sales in 2020 to 79 in 2021. Average price was also healthy, $5253 in 2021.

While numbers are small, and perhaps not statistically significant, some developments I noted include.
  • The average price in .cloud was $8404, and number of sales up, although still only 14. My analysis of web use from Cisco Umbrella data indicated that .cloud is the second most used new extension, after .xyz.
  • The .life extension had 69 reported sales in 2021[/b], compared to only 18 the previous year. Average price was a modest $502, though.
  • Another extension to keep an eye on is .network, that went from just 2 sales in 2020 to 44 in 2021. The average price of $1366 was also significantly up.
  • While still small, the sales volume in .one almost tripled, and the average price was solid at $2568.
  • The .world extension, while only accounting for a sales volume of about $27,700, was up in number of sales from 5 to 79.
  • While the number of sales in .link was largely unchanged, the solid average price of $2570 in 2021 helped propel a 45% increase in sales volume, to about $82,200. In my analysis of TLD website traffic using Cisco Umbrella data, .link was the third most used new extension.
  • The number of sales in the .company extension went from just 3 in 2020 to 17 in 2021, with an average price of $1973. With a major user, x.company, the Google moonshot incubator, it may be an extension to keep an eye on.

Average Prices

The following graph shows the average prices for a number of different extensions with at least 50 sales in 2021. Keep in mind that these are not retail-only prices, and that the fraction of retail to wholesale prices almost certainly varies across different extensions. In particular, .com has many wholesale transactions for each retail sale.

AveragePrices.png


.COM Still Dominates

The dominance of .com continues, and in fact grew slightly year over year. The .com extension accounted for 85.2% of sales by number, and by dollar volume, .com was responsible for 80.5% of sales. This is higher than the percentage of registered domains or web traffic.

Taken as a whole, country codes account for 10.3% of 2021 domain name sales dollar volume.

Combined, new extensions represent 2.8% of the sales volume, 1.1% of that from .xyz.

PieVolume.png


Keep In Mind

It is important to keep the following points in mind.
  • Sales from some key parts of the market, such as the brandable marketplaces, are not included in NameBio. Since those sales are predominantly .com, that might change the picture significantly.
  • While an increase in sales volume is usually regarded as a positive, it is possible that it is a reflection of investors deciding to liquidate their long-term holdings in that extension.
  • Some sales are reported to NameBio well after the date of the sale. That probably means that the 2021 data is slightly lower than it really should be. If you check in a few months the precise numbers will have changed slightly. Each of the past 3 years I have accessed data on on the 2nd day of January, and the computations here are based on data from that similar point in time from year to year, so there should not be a systematic bias.
  • Remember that only a minority of sales are in NameBio, and in some cases the numbers reported in an extension are relatively small. Therefore the percentage change may not be very meaningful.
  • A small number of very large sales skew the average prices.
  • While I tested the top 15 new extensions, as well as country code that I anticipated might be strong, I have probably overlooked a few TLDs that should be included. Feel free to suggest TLDs in the comments section.

Unanswered Questions

Here are some things on my mind as I consider the data.
  1. What do you think about the trend in .net and .org, up from year to year? With .org finding increasing adoption in the cryptocurrency and defi fields, will sales in that TLD grow?
  2. For the past few years both .co and .io have grown strongly. Will that continue in 2022?
  3. We have all seen certain terms, like eth and meta sell for significant amounts even in TLDs without a history of significant sales. Has the SLD importance relative to the TLD increased?
  4. The .vc sales were very strong in 2021. Will that continue or accelerate in 2022?
  5. After .ai and .gg, and national TLDs like .de, what country code might be poised for significant growth?
  6. I think that the big .xyz sales have to be the surprise story for 2021, along with the overall strength of the domain aftermarket. Will .xyz sales accelerate, and use broaden, in 2022?
  7. Will the acceptance of .xyz spill over into increased acceptance of other new gTLDs?
  8. The essential digital presence during the pandemic has driven much of the growth in the aftermarket and registrations. Will that continue in 2022, or might we be poised for a pull back?, as the economy deals with massive government debts and rising inflation.

So what do you think? Please share in the comments what surprised you in the numbers, and what you see as the important messages for domain name investors.

If you want to see how 2020 compared to 2019 check out this link for last year’s article.

Next week I will post an article on the domain market outlook for 2022. If you have not already done so, please vote in the poll and leave your opinions.

My sincere thanks for NameBio. The superb interface makes it easy to do an analysis such as this one using their data. The domain community is much better informed because of their database.
 
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oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com It's Time For Action
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Bob, Thanks for a very insightful article,

One thing is for sure and that is that the domaining world is changing fast from what some us Oldtimers have been used to.

Here is a good subject for you to consider for a future article:

If your Billionaire friend asked you for help to get into domaining what kind of portfolio would you recommend for your friend to put together.

Do you still recommend to your friend to go with what has been the sure and proven thing in the past or do you tell your friend to take a chance with some of the currently rising extensions and trends (or perhaps to take a gamble with some of the extensions and trends that might have some potential to rise in the future but are not on top of the charts yet like when some people registered a bunch of .io and .xyz domains a few years back before they were so popular).

In another words if money was no object then how do you diversify a portfolio and what would you recommend to your friends to get in today's changing environment when it came to the new trends both in the keywords and the extensions.

IMO
 
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