Unstoppable Domains
Bob Hawkes

How Did 2020 Compare To 2019 In Domain Name Sales?

By Bob Hawkes, Jan 13, 2021
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    This week I take a look at how average prices, numbers of domains sold, and sales dollar volumes in 2020 compared to the previous year. I used the NameBio data for the analysis, looking at sales of $100 and more. Keep in mind that by no means all sales are in NameBio, and the reported sales are a mix of wholesale acquisitions by domain name investors and retail sales to end users. This analysis is based on over 151 million dollars in sales volume in 2020.

    The Big Picture

    If we look across all extensions, there were more sales in 2020 than in 2019, about 127,500 versus 108,800, but the average price dropped from $1389 to $936. As a result, the dollar sales volume went down by 21% in 2020. Keep in mind that the average price is a mix of two populations, wholesale and retail sales.

    While 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, some view the total dollar volume a better indicator of strength. I look at individual extensions in more detail below, but here are the percentage changes from 2019 to 2020 in the dollar volume for some of the key top level domains, TLDs.


    While some of these changes may seem dramatic, keep in mind that it is just from one year to the next, and by no means all sales are in NameBio. In several of the categories, while the average price and sales volume are down, the number of domain names sold actually increased strongly. This was true for com and new generic top-level domains, new gTLDs.

    Sales in .com

    If we consider .com only, the number of reported aftermarket sales increased by 16.9% in 2020, but the average price dropped from $1396 to $874, resulting in a 26.8% drop in dollar sales volume.

    The average price is heavily influenced by major sales. There were fewer high-value sales in 2020 – just one over $1 million, and 3 others over $500,000, at least as reported in NameBio.

    Looking at all aftermarket domain name sales, the vast majority are in the .com top level domain. This changed only slightly from 2019 when about 85.6% of all sales were in .com, compared to 85.3% of all sales in 2020. Note these are percentages in terms of number of sales. The results are slightly different for sales volumes.

    Other Major Legacy Extensions

    In 2020 the average prices in .net and .org at $945 and $899 were very similar to .com. Unlike .com however, prices increased in 2020 in these extensions however. There was a 11.8% increase in .net average price and a 7.2% .org average sales price increase.

    The number of .net sales increased by 19.1%, while the dollar volume was also up, by 33.2%. While the number of sales in these extensions are far fewer than in .com, so are the number actively for sale.

    The .org extension has been gradually trending up for some time. In 2020 there was an increase of 14.4% in number of .org sales reported and a 22.6% increase in total dollar volume.

    Additional Legacy Extensions
    • The .info TLD had 396 reported sales in 2020 with an average sales price of $438. Although the average price and dollar volume are both down, the number of sales was up.
    • The number of sales in the .biz extension was up 16.7%, along with a 57.8% increase in sales volume. This was pushed by a 35.3% average price increase, although the 2020 average price of $625 was still significantly less than .com, .net and .org.
    • The .pro extension almost doubled number of reported sales, although that was still just 44. The average price of $1289 in 2020 was more than for the legacy extensions.
    • While we tend to think of the .mobi extension as largely dormant, it still has web traffic and there were 35 aftermarket sales in the extension during 2020, with an average sales price of $479. The number of sales was up slightly, although average price and volume were down.

    Country Code Extensions Have Strong 2020

    Considering country code extensions as a whole, 2020 was strong compared to 2019, and 2019 had itself been a good year for country code extensions. There were 22.9% more sales in country code extensions reported in NameBio in 2020 compared to 2019. The total dollar volume was also up, by 23.2%.

    There was almost no change from 2019 in average price for a country code domain sale, $1686 in 2020. The higher average prices in country code extension sales may partially be explained by a higher ratio of retail to wholesale transactions.

    I also looked at a number of country code extensions individually. I highlight some of the results below.
    • With 607 sales, an average sales price of $4387 and a dollar volume of $2.66 million in 2020, the .de extension had another strong year. The number and volume were both up more than 30%, and average price dipped less than 2%.
    • Perhaps surprisingly, the average sales price on a .us domain sale in 2020 was $1084, slightly higher than for the major legacy extensions. The number of sales increased from 145 to 153. Dollar volume was up by 40% in .us in 2020 compared to 2019.
    • The .uk extension had a strong 2019, but both the number of sales and dollar volume were down by more than 70% in 2020. However, the .co.uk extension saw a 36.4% increase in number of sales and the dollar volume more than doubled to $1.28 million.
    • The .in extension for India more than tripled in terms of number of sales, going from 55 to 190. The average price dipped somewhat, but it was still strong at $1689 in 2020.
    • The number of .mx sales reported on NameBio is modest, but grew from 12 sales in 2019 to 60 in 2020. While the average .mx price dropped, at $1071 it is still higher than for the legacy extensions. The sales volume in .mx is up 57.1% in 2020 compared to 2019.
    • Numerous European country codes had a strong 2020. Of particular note, Spain’s .es went from 39 to 108 sales, although volume was down by about 10%. Italy’s .it extension grew 54% in sales numbers and more than doubled sales volume, propelled by an average sales price per domain name of $7649 in 2020.
    • The number of sales in Canada’s .ca was only 37, compared to 23 in 2019, but the average sales price was $7960.
    • Compared to the size of the economy, not many .cn sales get reported to NameBio, just 25 in 2020, although the average price was $3657.
    I consider the generic country codes in the next section.

    Generic Country Code Performance

    Many domain investors are interested in the generic extensions such as .io, .co, .ai, .tv, etc. In general these had a strong 2020. Here are some highlights.
    • The number of sales in .io was up almost 40%, while the total dollar volume increased by 52.1%. The average sales price in 2020 for .io was $1198.
    • There was a dramatic increase in the number of sales in .co, 438 in 2019 to 1087 in 2020. While the average price dipped significantly, it was still a respectable $1313 in 2020.
    • While the number of sales, average price and total volume were all down in .tv, with 187 sales in 2020 and an average sales price of $1440, .tv is still a strong extension.
    • It was another solid year for .me, with 40.5% increase in number of sales and 58.0% increase in sales volume. The average price was $1023 in 2020.
    • The .ai extension was not as strong as I expected. The number of sales was 1385 in 2020, more than many TLDs, but that was down from 2202 in 2019. The average price of $754 suggests that many of the transactions continue to be wholesale.
    • The .gg extension took off in 2020, going from 30 to 172 sales. The average price actually dipped though, to $618 in 2020.
    • While some venture capital businesses have used .vc domain names for awhile, the number of sales in the aftermarket is still limited, 77 in 2020 compared to 27 in 2019.
    • Not much change in .ly in price, number of sales or volume.
    • The .cc extension finds use particularly in cycling, churches and China, although some use in many other sectors such as cryptocurrency. The number of sales in .cc were up about 12% in 2020, and the sales volume was up 3.7%. The average sales price in 2020 was $1081
    • While how auctions are handled may partially explain it, the repurposed .to extension saw 624 sales in 2020 compared to just 84 the previous year. The average price was modest at $434, though, indicating that many were domainer acquisitions.

    New Domain Extensions

    Taken as a whole, aftermarket sales of new domain extensions were up 17.1% in numbers, but sales volume dropped by 33.5% to just over $2.3 million. It seems that there were fewer registry premium sales being reported to NameBio. Many of the extensions had just a handful of reported sales. Here are details on a few extensions.
    • Probably the strongest extension in the aftermarket is .app. The number of sales grew by 73.2% while sales volume grew by 54.8%. The average sales price in .app in 2020 was $5343.
    • The .xyz extension was much stronger in 2020 than in 2019, returning to activity of previous years, but this time propelled by aftermarket domainer sales rather than registry premium sales. The number of sales was up by almost a factor of 6, while the sales volume increased by a factor of just under 5. There were 97 sales of .xyz in 2020 at an average sales price of $1118.
    • While still a minor player in the reported aftermarket sales, .online had more sales in 2020, although the average price dipped substantially to $748.
    • The .club extension continues to do well, both in aftermarket sales and in real-world use. The number of sales was up by 35.6% in 2020, while sales volume was up by 30.0%. The average sales price was also strong, $2519.

    Average Prices

    I put together the average prices for a number of different extensions in the following graph. While this is interesting, and in some cases surprising, keep in mind that these are not graphs of retail prices only, and that the fraction of retail to total prices almost certainly varies across the different extensions.


    Sales Volumes

    The dominance of .com continues. The graph below shows the dollar volume by extension. While .com accounts for 85.3% of all sales by number, even when we do it by dollar volume, .com is responsible for 79.7% of all sales. Taken as a whole, country codes account for 10.8% of 2020 domain name sales dollar volume. Everything else combined provides less than 10% of the dollar volume of all domain name sales in 2020.


    Comparisons With Previous Years

    If you want to compare data presented here with previous years, here are links to the NamePros Blog posts from a year ago when I considered data from 2015 though 2019. The first article looks at trends in sales volume, while the second article covers average prices.

    The trend of decreasing prices in .com is potentially worrying, but I think can be explained by an increasing percentage of wholesale transactions. That also explains the larger number of sales in .com. I look at how prices have changed in the last decade in next week’s NamePros Blog post, including extracting just a measure of the retail prices.

    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 be enough to have changed 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 2020 data is slightly lower than it really should be. Undoubtedly, if you check the data in a few months the precise numbers will have changed slightly.
    • There have been changes in reporting of premium sales by registries, and it seems that less are now being reported to NameBio.
    • 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.
    Surprising Results

    Here are some things that emerged from the analysis that surprised me.
    1. I was surprised that the average sales prices in .net and .org were slightly higher than .com.
    2. it surprised me that there was a significant increase in the number of .net sales.
    3. It somewhat surprising that the average price of a sale in a new extension, .co or many other country codes was significantly higher than in .com sales.
    4. The drop in number of sales, and modest average sales price, of .ai surprised me.
    5. I had realized that .co was having a strong year, but surprised that the number of sales more than doubled in 2020.
    6. The .to extension does not get much attention, but the number of sales in 2020 in the extension, at least as reported in NameBio, was higher than in .de for example. Seen another way, it had about the same number of sales as .uk, .co.uk, .us, .cn and .gg extensions combined.
    7. The very high average sales prices in extensions like .ca at $7960 and .it at $7649 surprised me.
    8. I presume that the low numbers of .cn sales are due to underreporting to NameBio of venues where most sales in the extension are happening. Nevertheless, I was surprised at the few reported sales from the country code of such a major economy.
    So what do you think? Please share in the comments what surprised you in the numbers, and what you see as the messages for domain name investors.

    My sincere thanks to the people who created and maintain NameBio. The superb interface makes analyses such as this easy to do using their data.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and informal educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 74th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (25)

  6. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer BrandableInsider.com PRO VIP ICA Member

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    Another masterpiece, Bob! My personal assessment is that the decrease in dot com dollar volume has as much to do with the changes in aftermarket activity and pricing has it has to do with retail sales. But that's just my perception. Others may disagree :)
  7. Antony Northcutt

    Antony Northcutt Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    Thanks so much for this Bob, you're a legend. I have one question regarding the data, am I correct in saying that NameBio only accounts for 20% of the total sales? Or have I read that incorrectly?
  8. Ostrados

    Ostrados EpicName.com VIP

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    Thanks for this great analysis! I still didnt go through all of it yet, but regarding drop in total sales dollar value, I think it is related to the record breaking sale of voice.com at 30m in 2019.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  9. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    They may provide their own view, but i would think it is something of that order. The missing includes (unless individually reported) all Afternic, in general Sedo less than $2000 (except auctions); sales at the brandable marketplaces, until recently DAN sales and still unless opted in or individually reported, sales at essentially all of the brandable marketplaces. That clearly is a lot. Since the GD and NJ auctions are in, along with Dynadot, ParkIO and some others, there is definitely many more wholesale than retail in the database. What is in on the retail side is largely Sedo $2000+, BuyDomains, and some others, including privately reported.

    In next week's article (unless something breaking pushes it later) I look at prices long term and try to extract just retail. I won't give everything, but in general the conclusion will be similar to what @Keith DeBoer proposes above that the apparent change in prices is due to change in the wholesale.

  10. BradWilson

    BradWilson Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thanks @Bob Hawkes another in your continuing series of excellent articles.

    Only comment I have is... the 80-20 rules again.

    Sorry got one more, I added an item to my To Do List and it's titled...

    • Read all of Bob's Articles :)

    Update: Just now I added a new option for my project...

    Fav TLDs of Bob: 'com','net','org','info','biz','pro','mobi','de','us','uk','in','mx','es','ca','cn','io','co','tv','me','ai','gg','ly','cc','to','app','xyz','online','club'

    Ha and finally? Since it's my birthday tomorrow, I'd like to give you a gift to show my appreciation for all your efforts. I'll PM you with the details.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  11. FolioTeam

    FolioTeam AMDB.tv VIP

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    A lot of sales don't get reported. Even that 20% might be generous
  12. FolioTeam

    FolioTeam AMDB.tv VIP

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    Thanks Bob for the analysis. I was surprised by the .net but not by the .co. Still don't like .net. .co, in my opinion, might just be a bubble.
  13. D Haynes

    D Haynes Top Contributor VIP

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    I'd like to see a "Bob" badge for those who go above and beyond for the benefit of the NP community. Many thanks for your time Bob you're an asset.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  14. Mytz.com

    Mytz.com Top 4L [email protected] ieie.com CuTu.com NeSu.com QAMI.com PRO VIP Gold Account

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  15. Avijit Roy

    Avijit Roy Top Contributor VIP

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    Really appreciate you sharing great analysis....
  16. Brack Nelson

    Brack Nelson Established Member

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    Found interesting. Thanks for sharing man.
  17. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    All extensions are my favourites, haha. I actually had more I looked at than the one in graph, but wanted to keep it kind of manageable so limited to the ones I thought others might find more meaningful. I looked at some more country codes, and a few other new extensions. Of the ones in your list I actually have domains personally in com, net, org, info, ca, io, co, me, cc, app, xyz, online, club (and well about 2 dozen more extensions that did not make my graph) but none in the others on the graph.

    Thanks for choosing (hint) the 'gift', and Happy Birthday!

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments and interaction.

  18. du6262

    du6262 Established Member

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    I really appreciate it,thanks for your time
    Good luck to all Domainers in 2021:xf.smile:
  19. jim h

    jim h Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Great article, thank you for sharing, sir.
  20. TauseefKhan

    TauseefKhan Established Member

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    @Bob Hawkes thanks for writing such an insightful and detailed post. It takes time. Anyway, I too have analyzed it a week ago and found that sales for the years 2019 and 2020 were equal if we remove the biggest domain sale (voice) for the year 2019. But, the average price as you've said dropped. But, it helped in moving more inventory. The total number of domains sold was up by 18.7k which is quite remarkable considering the COVID19.
  21. charrisg

    charrisg Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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  22. CryptoCBW

    CryptoCBW New Member

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    Useful Article..
  23. OzWorks

    OzWorks Established Member

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    Thanks so much Bob. Fantastic article. I might be new but I've been reading your posts for the past couple of years. I want to thank you for your tremendous generosity in sharing your experience and insights, your intelligence and calm, level-headed approach to what you say and how you deal with people. I'm hoping that photo is actually you because I've come to think of you as a stable, reliable, mentor. "Uncle Bob" if you will. :writer: Cheers
  24. CodingTheDomain

    CodingTheDomain Established Member

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    Hats off to you Bob, thanks for sharing this info
  25. Tewksbury

    Tewksbury Established Member

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    Very informative post. Great work Bob! Thank you.

    My favorite quote:
  26. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for your very kind comments, @OzWorks , and I can confirm the photo is me. To some degree by trying to present all sides fairly, and to respect all views, I think a carryover from my years in science and education, it actually makes it easier for me to seem level headed. I am not tied to any particular approach. I genuinely do want to learn new things, and do so here every day. I thank NamePros management for helping give my retirement years time a focus I never expected to have, and every person on NamePros for making this community what it is.

    Thanks again everyone for your kind words.


    PS Perhaps I should add some comment directly related to the topic, so hopefully not off-topic too much in a thread I started :xf.eek:.

    From time to time someone tells me well 'all the numbers mean nothing for me - why do them?' I think there can be truth in that - if you have an approach which is personally successful and profitable, in a way, it is OK to ignore trends.

    But even then, I think that one should at least be open to possibilities to be even more successful. Writing these has influenced my personal approach to some degree. It might be an interesting idea for people to ask what three things they see in this analysis that they want to investigate further and perhaps apply to their own investing.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  27. OzWorks

    OzWorks Established Member

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    Thanks for your reply Bob. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m not surprised that you have a background in education and science. Your analytical and balanced approach suggests a lot of critical thinking.

    Your homework suggestion for us is a good idea. “What three things they (I) see in this analysis that they (I) want to investigate further and perhaps apply to their own investing”.

    I’ve given it some thought. My 3 things;

    1. Be more like Bob :joyful:

    2. Learn more about how to identify trends and apply that to my future investing

    3. Invest in .coms, invest in .coms, invest in .coms! But, when I don’t, I’d like to have a far better understanding of how to identify new extensions which are likely to have real value and longevity. I think it’s a bit of a guessing game for everyone but the kind of analysis you’ve done here helps a lot in seeing the big picture. I’m surprised at what a small slice of the market goes to the new extensions. That’s sobering when you’ve been buying them. The take away might be….invest in .coms, invest in .coms, invest in .coms! :xf.rolleyes:

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
  28. Domain Search

    Domain Search Established Member

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    You are the king of education of Domaining. It's really a very great and useful analysis.
    Thanks Bob
  29. Omar Negron

    Omar Negron Top Contributor VIP

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    Thank you for this great write up!

    I see .APP looks to be gaining some steam? Interesting.

    .COM still has most of the market share though...been that way since I've been involved with domaining...lol.

    Thanks Bob!

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