report Domains Help Change Lives

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With the natural focus on selling domains, it is easy to overlook the fact that those domains can, and sometimes do, change lives. This point was highlighted in the recently-released 2019 Canada’s Internet Factbook that contained the catchy graphic the internet changes lives.

The 2019 survey found that 9% completed their education online, 22% found their current job, 16% located their housing, and 10% found their spouse thanks to the internet (and, therefore, domain names).

The right domain name is a critical component of an effective website. As the report emphasizes, those sites can literally be life-changing.

CIRA (the Canadian Internet Registration Authority) that manages the .ca country code domain extension released the report. While the report was based on a survey of 2050 adult Canadians conducted in March 2019, I expect that many of the results apply globally to some degree. The survey took care to proportionately represent different ages, genders, and geographical (within Canada) distribution.

Below, we take a look at some of the survey findings with an eye to the actionable messages for domain investors.

Online a lot

Canadians are online frequently and regularly. About 75% of respondents are online at least 3 hours each day, often coupling online activity with something else. Fully 20% of respondents indicated that they were not offline for an 8 hour period at any point during the year. On the other hand, 15% did go offline for a full week during the previous year. I suspect that is a mix of those who deliberately took an online break and those who did wilderness camping in regions without cell service.
“The most common online activities include email, banking, accessing social media, catching up on news/current events and shopping, but the time Canadians spend instant messaging has increased.”

We naturally tend to focus on domains in emerging new technologies or social trends, but that should not distract us from the fact that most online activity, and demand for domains, will be in rather common applications such as shopping, information, connecting with others, and news.
“While more than half of internet users still visit news and media sites, four out of five Canadians say they’re keeping up to date with current events through social media sites.”

The survey looked at how Canadians access the internet. I was somewhat surprised that 87% still use a desktop or laptop, and a bit higher than 75% for smartphones, although the gap is narrowing each year. Respondents were asked to indicate all of the ways they used the internet, so it does not mean that 87% used only a desktop.

When are country code sites preferred?

Obviously, CIRA is not a disinterested party on this question. One question asked which activities Canadian respondents favour .ca-based over .com-hosted sites. They prefer .ca for services, community organizations, banking, shopping, travel information, education, and online research, while they had no preference for downloading content, social media, entertainment, and gaming.

This finding, if applicable to other strong country codes, is suggestive of the categories where country code domains may shine.

Trust, or not, in uncommon extensions

Respondents were asked about their familiarity with, and trust in, uncommon extensions (both generic country code and new domain extensions). As the series has asked this question for a number of years, it is interesting to look at trends.

The most recent report indicates only a slight change from the previous year. While 32% said they were somewhat comfortable and 8% were very comfortable with uncommon extensions, 39% said they were not very comfortable and 12% not comfortable at all. The number of respondents that were unsure on this question was 10%.

Online Purchases

The survey found that 87% of respondents have made online purchases during the year. While there were increases in virtually all types of purchases, over the last few years the number of Canadians buying travel, household goods, clothing, and food online have increased most strongly.
“In 2019, 51% of Canadians made an online purchase for their home, compared to just 26% in 2014. Notably, purchases of food or food delivery jumped from 14% in 2016 to 31% in 2019.”

If this trend extends to other countries, I see actionable insights for domain niches. While services such as Skip The Dishes account for much of the increase in online food purchases, the survey found that local restaurants continue to have the larger share (59% ordered directly from a restaurant while 48% through a service). When coupled with a finding that most prefer to buy online, this is a compelling case that each restaurant needs an effective website built on a strong domain name.

While most do make purchases online, there is still some level of concern. The survey found that:
“75% are comfortable making purchases on a Canadian retail or government site vs only 55% on a U.S. site.”

There is an interesting finding that while many research products on mobile devices, the actual purchase is more apt to be made using a desktop or laptop.


The Canadian respondents showed strong acceptance of online banking with 71% doing their banking online. More time was spent banking than online shopping, which is something I found surprising.

Interactive Devices

Domain investors on NamePros and elsewhere have discussed how the move to voice-activated digital assistants will influence the demand for domain names. While the survey found significant growth in voice-activated devices, I was surprised they were not yet more dominant.
One in five Canadians say they have a voice-activated assistant like the Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple’s HomePod.”


Online activity of all types is on the increase in the 55+ age group, and I think we sometimes overlook domain names related to sites of particular interest to this group. While Canadians use a wide variety of ways to get online, use of mobile devices grew most strongly in the 55+ category (from 24% in 2015 to 57% in 2019).

Final thoughts

The freely available full 2019 Internet Factbook contains a wealth of additional information.

Of course, we did not touch on another way that domains change lives, and that is through big sales! There have been a number of major sales during recent weeks. No doubt some of those sales will have profound impacts on the lives of the sellers. But that should not blind us to the broad reach a domain may have on people you will never meet.

So what messages do you see for domain investors from the report?
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
Your analysis is spot on Bob, and thorough.
One can look at facts & figures and only see the numbers.
The best insight is gleaned by those who can see trends & patterns.
And then distill them succinctly.
Great research. I really appreciate you taking the time to write these posts.

Some of these stats wouldn't be in correlation with the U.S. market. During the winter all of Canada is cold and frigid which makes most spend much more time indoors on the internet. Because of this Canada stats would be much more different. When research is done for the U.S. market it includes the entire U.S. market which would include someone in Florida in 90 degree weather and also someone that could be in Vermont in 0 degree weather. Both people would be doing drastically different things depending on the weather. I wonder what time of year they conducted this research.
Thanks Bob, I find the lower cell phone use at 34% versus 51% on Laptop to be interesting. Like mentioned above perhaps indoors more often, watching netflix, viewing a larger screen, etc. I keep reading all these reports of increased cellular usage being the most growth market, but that data I believe is scattered worldwide, including people who do not have a home computer.

Best statement, which sort of nullifies the trust Canadians have in Facebook only webpage businesses:

“Websites matter to Canadians. In 2019, 67% say they’re more likely to do business with a company that has a website”