Bob Hawkes

Mixed Messages from Domain Sales in First Half of 2020

By Bob Hawkes, Jul 1, 2020
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Given concerns related to the economic upheaval resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, many have speculated on whether domain sales have decreased or increased. In this article, I look at domain name sales data for the first six months of 2020, comparing it to the same period in 2019.

    Across all extensions, I found that the number of sales was up 10.9% in 2020, although the average price and overall sales volume were both down substantially. That difference is largely explained by the $30 million sale in 2019, however.

    Both .net and .org showed stronger growth in number of domain names sold than .com. Both also had strong increases in sales dollar volume, while volume was down significantly in .com.

    There was strong growth in country code extensions as a whole, with about 50.0% increase in number sold, although average prices were down somewhat.

    Average prices remain significantly higher in country code and new extension domain names compared to legacy extensions. Sales numbers for new extensions were down about 10.8%.


    I used the NameBio database (sales of $100 and above) to compare domain sales in the first half of 2020 to the same period in 2019.
    • All Extensions
      During the first 6 months of 2020, there were about 59,000 NameBio-reported sales across all extensions, compared to 53,200 in the same months of 2019. That represents an increase of 10.9% in number of sales. However, the average price was down by 39.5%, and the total sales dollar volume was down 32.9%. Most of the difference can be attributed to the $30 million sale in 2019.
    • .com
      There were about 50,000 .com sales in the first half of 2020, compared to 46,000 in the same period of 2019. This represents an increase of 8.7%. However, dollar sales volume in .com decreased by 39.9%. Nevertheless, most domain sales remain in .com, 86.5% of all sales in the first six months of 2019, and 84.7% of all sales in 2020. The sales dollar volume represented by .com decreased from 88.5% in 2019 to 79.3% in 2020.
    • .net.
      The strength of the .net numbers surprised me. The number of sales in .net is up 22.6%, with 1785 sales during the first 6 months of 2020. The average price was also up, now $885. The sales dollar volume was up 47.8%, to about $1.58 million in .net sales during the first six months of 2020.
    • .org
      Sales in .org
      were up 10.6%, to 2933 sales in the first half of 2020. The average price in the extension was also up, to $929, a 10.1% increase. The sales volume in .org increased by 21.8% in 2020. The lifting of the price cap, and the now abandoned proposal to change registry ownership, have not seemed to lessen interest in the extension.
    • .info
      Sales in the .info extension were up, from 123 sales in the first half of 2019, to 187 sales in 2020. Average prices were down, however, to $425, resulting in an .info sales volume decrease of 17.9%.
    • All country codes
      Taken as a whole, the country code extensions are doing very well in 2020. The number of sales increased by 50%, to 3578. Although average prices were down by 16.8%, when compared to the first half of 2019, the $1600 average price in 2020 is substantially higher than for any of the major legacy extensions. Sales volume in country code extensions was $5.7 million for the six month period in 2020, an increase of 24.8% compared to the first half of 2019.
    • All new extensions
      There were 452 new extension domain sales in the first half of 2020. This represented a decrease of 10.8% from the same period in 2019. The average price was $2772 for new extension sales in 2020. During the first half of 2020 the new extension sales volume was about $1.25 million.
    • .ai
      The number of sales in .ai were up slightly in 2020, to 793, while the average price was up substantially, from $531 in 2019 to $788 in 2020.
    • .app
      Aftermarket sales in .app continue to pick up, increasing from 28 sales in the first half of 2019, to 45 sales in the same months of 2020. The average price of an .app sale in 2020 was $6363, up more than 80% from the first half of 2019. The sales volume in .app has more than doubled in 2020. To put the $286,300 .app sales volume into perspective, it represents more than 80% of the .co sales volume for the same period.
    • .cc
      Sales in the .cc extension continue to grow, with about 12.8% more sales and 88.1% more dollar volume in 2020. The average price of a .cc sale was a healthy $1449.
    • .co
      While the average .coprice was $1471 in 2020, that is down from the first half of 2019. The number of sales in .co was up substantially in 2020, about 46.9%.
      The extension saw a slight increase in number of domain names sold, to 75 in the first half of 2020, and a substantial increase in average sales price, now $5766. There were an additional 25 sales in .uk during the first six months of 2020.
    • .de
      Germany’s country code continues to be one of the stronger performers. Although down slightly, at a $4708 average price, .de remains one of the higher average sales prices. The number of sales in the extension were up 25.1% in 2020.
    • .gg
      Although interest in .gg as a gaming extension is growing, there were still only 76 sales in the first half of 2020. The average price dropped substantially, though, to only $406 in 2020.
    • .io
      The .io extension is popular among startups. The extension saw nearly a doubling of reported sales in 2020, to 635, although average prices were down in 2020 to $775.
    • .ly
      The .ly domain extension is popular for domain name hacks. Although there were fewer than 100 sales in .ly during the reporting period, the number of sales were up 11.7%, when compared to 2019. However, average prices were down by 12.6%.
    • .me
      In last year’s analysis, I commented on the strong performance of the .me extension during the first half of 2019. That continued in 2020 in terms of number of sales, with 157 sales in the first half of 2020 compared to 85 during the same period of 2019. The average price has dropped substantially from last year, however, to $692.
    • .tv
      While .tv extension sales are down slightly in number, 81 in 2020 versus 121 sales during the first half of 2019, the average price is almost constant at $1236.
    • .us
      The .us domain extension had essentially no change. There were exactly the same number of sales, 86, in each six-month period. The average price, $867 in 2020, was just 2% less than the same period in 2019.

    The data for this study came from the NameBio database, and does not include all domain name sales. While there are not many substantial reporting changes between early 2019 and 2020, the impact of which venues report to NameBio is important to keep in mind. For example, data only started appearing in late 2019.

    As domain sales are added, or deleted for a variety of reasons, sometimes well after the date of the sale, the precise numbers will vary depending on when you access NameBio. The 2020 data were accessed July 1, 2020. It is likely that the actual numbers for the six month period will be slightly higher, due to reporting delay for some sales. The 2019 data was accessed just after July 1, 2019, so the conditions were similar for comparison of the two years (except for .app, .gg and extensions that were not included in the 2019 article).

    It is important to keep in mind that NameBio reported sales are a mix of wholesale and retail transactions. This mix is particularly troublesome for average prices, where one is computing an average from two different populations.

    The obvious conclusions may not always be the real ones. For example, if the number of sales in an extension go up, it might mean that there is increasing interest in the extension. However, it alternately could be a reflection of lagging interest, resulting in some investors liquidating holdings in the extension.

    Average prices can be particularly misleading. Domain investors acquiring more domain names in an extension, resulting in a higher ratio of wholesale to retail transactions, may drive down the average price, even though the extension is in fact doing well.

    Keep in mind the impact of a large sale on the data. The $30 million sale of in 2019 plays havoc with trying to compare average prices and sales volumes. If we excluded that one sale from the first half of 2019 it would decrease the average price by about $600 in .com, and about $508 in overall sales for the six month period.

    Don't overlook that for some of the extensions the actual number of sales is small and therefore carries considerable statistical fluctuation. For example, .gg had a massive increase, but that was from just 6 sales in the first half of 2019 to 76 sales in the same period of 2020.

    While it is valuable to compare recent results to the same calendar months in the preceding year, it is also important to look at longer term trends. In earlier analyses I looked at sales volume and average price trends over a four year period.

    So what changes are happening in the domain market in 2020 from your perspective? Please share in the comments section.

    Sincere thanks to Michael Sumner of NameBio for the amazing domain sales resource used for this analysis.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
    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 46th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (11)

  6. equity78

    equity78 Top Member TheDomains Staff PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Very good point
  7. OnlineDomainCom

    OnlineDomainCom VIP Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Bob, I would wait a couple of weeks at least so all sales in the first half are reported.
  8. Mister Funsky

    Mister Funsky Top Contributor VIP

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    Thanks Bob for the information...very thorough as usual! I'll just share that my sales are up over last year, but lowballers are coming out of the woodwork. Likely investors wanting to acquire names in face of a real and/or perceived downturn. Keep up the good work!
  9. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for suggestion.

    Just to clarify, I compared the data from July 1 this year to the data collected for last year's article from July 1 last year. That is, both data sets were collected under the same time frame conditions, since my main goal was to compare the two six month periods.

    While it is true as noted some sales get added, and subtracted, for some time, and in absolute numbers they might end up slightly larger, for comparison consistency is most important. It is, of course, much easier to extract the data when done immediately after the end of the period.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and thank you for all your great writing for the domain community over the years. @OnlineDomainCom. I did take two domains from the Mann drop list you kindly recently posted!


    PS I would note that three extensions with small numbers that I had not included in the 2019 study, .gg, .us and .app, I did extract the 2019 numbers from NameBio recently, so for those extensions, and only those, the conditions were not the same. That probably means the real ratio is biased slightly against 2020, for those three, for the reasons you note.
  10. jim h

    jim h Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Sir,You summed up the important information. Thank you for sharing.

    As a matter of fact, I have recently talked with some domain name brokers (they serve for large dealers, similar to sedo and afterNIC systems). They told me that the recent turnover has not decreased significantly and the turnover has remained at an optimistic level. Therefore, I personally think the information you have given is very correct. They found that some categories of domain name sales decreased significantly, but at the same time, sales of some keywords increased significantly. But for the sake of confidentiality, they didn't disclose to me exactly what it was.

    However, I think we should pay attention to the overall trend of the market in the second half of the year.
    I am optimistic.
  11. WatchDogue

    WatchDogue Top Contributor VIP

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    An outstanding synopsis of domain name sales for the first half of of 2020.

    And yes, extra congrats on the analysis as you must factor in wholesale and retail transactions to arrive at well reasoned averages and comparisons.

    Was a bit surprised, regardless of wholesale/retail differentials that both .net and .org average sales didn't crack the 1000. per name sales ceiling - so found that data very interesting to consider when potentially acquiring a few .net/,org names.

    The 30 mil monster in the room, surely has an effect on year-to-year comparisons - and glad you reminded the reader about that Hugh sale in the comparison factoring.

    As a mere canoe in the vast sea of domain name yachters I nevertheless anticipate the industry will remain at least constant and consistent for this year and next and, as businesses emerge or rise from the economic ashes many experienced, domain names sales will see an uptick.
  12. VIP Gold Account

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    Thank you for sharing.
    In 2020, there were no domain names that sold for a lot of money,
    There was a domain name that was offered for $8,000,
    But I refused,
    Because I want to sell it higher,
    I don't know if it's the right decision or the wrong one
  13. kemjika11

    kemjika11 Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    You analyzed .io, .co, .ai, .us, .de, but where's your .IN analysis?? or are there too few public sales? thanks for the report also.
  14. FolioTeam

    FolioTeam VIP

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    Good analysis. I enjoyed reading it
  15. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and you are correct that the case could be made for including .in. Here is the report:

    While most sales in the .in extension probably take place at venues not reported to NameBio, the first six months of 2020 have 95 sales, compared to just 12 in the same period in 2019. The average price has decreased from $3507 to $1458, but that is largely due to the $15,000 sale of during 2019, that strongly impacted the average that was based on only 12 sales.​

    If anyone has other TLDs they would like to see reported just let me know. Obviously those with very small numbers will not be very significant.

    I have added .in to my spreadsheet, so assuming I do a third report in the series next year I will include it, assuming there are a significant number of sales in 2021.

    Thanks again,

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  16. etruscan

    etruscan Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    thanks for sharing this analysis Bob. It reinforce my idea of catching .net vs. .io for not tech related domains when .com is not available since they are both growing but .io is decreasing in value while average price of .net increasing.
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