Relatively new NamePros member dave321 asked a really good question this week: Where do you see domaining in 5 years? Typical sell-through rates mean that most of a domain portfolio is held for multiple years, so ideas about the future will impact our investment choices today. But is it possible to predict the future? Domain Name World In 2026 Here is a summary of some of the themes that I took from the various responses to the discussion thread on predicting the domain world 5 years in the future. Several responders feel that the world will become increasingly online, meaning a need for more domain names, so the future is bright. There was a split of opinion whether in five years time will .com be even more dominant, or will other top level domains (TLDs) be used more than currently? One person expressed the view that the proliferation of TLDs will lead to a collapse of the system. Some felt that, partially propelled by cryptocurrency acceptance, along with a wish to further diversify financial assets, in five year’s time there will be more acceptance of domain names as an asset class. Related to domains as an asset class, many are predicting that the time has finally come for fractional domain ownership. While alternative domain systems have been around for some time, we are still in the early stages of decentalized naming systems, such as handshake. Will we find ourselves in a world where any name can become a domain name, in a decentralized naming system? Or will the momentum and perceived need for centralized control stay strong? Security and abuse are major concerns. Will one solution to more trust be increasing use of brand domain extensions? On the other hand, it was pointed out that so far such use is limited, and a number of companies have given up their branded TLD. Will we still have the 10 year maximum renewal period, or will lifetime renewals become commonplace? Although not discussed in the thread, how renewal prices will increase, is clearly important for domain investors. Will new services lead to a more liquid domain market? We have seen progress on the wholesale side of liquid markets in the past year. Several people expressed the view that payment, lease and rental plans, already widely available, will become more commonplace. I covered payment plan options in an earlier NamePros Blog post, but the possibilities continue to expand. One person reasonably speculated that legal issues will become more common, and that domain lawyers will be in demand. Social networks have struggled with how much control to exercise, and that has made people realize that content they have on third-party sites is not under their control. This may drive increased domain use as some organizations and businesses abandon shared and social platforms. Here are a few quotations written in support of some of the preceding points. RogueWriter infosec3 TheBaldOne The question of whether each business will use many domain names, for various services, products and marketing campaigns, has long interested me. It clearly has implications not only for the number of domain names that will be purchased, but also the type of names that will sell. TCK While not directly on the topic of long-term predictions, check out also the views expressed in the NamePros Blog article on predicting 2021 in domain names. Is It Possible To Predict The Future? Physicist Niels Bohr summarized how many feel about predicting the future: ”Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future.”. Apparently Yogi Berra said essentially the same thing in one of his many unforgettable quotes. While no one can precisely predict the future of a complex inter-connected system, such as the domain name market, research has shown that some people are better than others at making predictions, and one can become better at making predictions with practice. It turns out that those who naturally are open to diverse ideas, and like to look at problems from many angles, and use data, are better predictors, as noted in this Harvard Business Review article The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) ran an experiment from 2011 to 2015 in which they studied the forecasting abilities of 25,000 people. The most successful prediction is not from one forecaster but a group of forecasters, as Kathy Peach, co-head of the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, says A key element is to pose the right questions. So think carefully, and in a creative and open-minded way, on what you actually want to predict. Personal Predictions In Your Portfolio The research clearly shows that the more predictions that you make, and evaluate, the better your predictions will be. It might be interesting to try applying this on your own portfolio. Why not try predicting the 20 domain names from your portfolio that you think are most likely to sell during the coming year, and arrange them in order from highest to lowest anticipated sales price. Write that prediction down somewhere, along with your notes on why you thought that way. Then next year this time, compare your prediction to the domain names, with prices, that actually sold. Evaluate your predictions. Try to identify why you went wrong. For example perhaps a trend in type of brandable fizzled, or a sector you did not predict to be strong dominated domain sales. Then, using this feedback, make a prediction for the next year, and so on. Obviously if you can get better at predicting which names will sell, it will help you be more successful. While the process will be slow, research suggests that simply saying why you predicted those 20 names would sell will help you get better choosing good names, as it will help you consider all factors. Perhaps you will also want to make some predictions about the domain industry in general. Try to make these as quantitative as possible, like the volume in TLD sales will increase by at least 10% year over year, or this will be the year that there will be multiple 5-figure sales in TLD. Each year Alvin Brown makes a set of predictions for the coming year. I am impressed with the quantitative nature of his predictions. Making quantitative predictions will make it easier to review and evaluate them, and prevent you from wiggling out of bad predictions. And that is a good thing. Final Thoughts In his usual unique way with words, biggie asks While none of us can perfectly predict the future, looking in detail at current trends and data, while being open to the ideas others hold, may give us a better basis to plan the next five years and beyond in our domain business. Of course rapidly developing artificial intelligence will help us all make better predictions. Harvard Business Review summarizes Imagine if 5 years ago you had clearly predicted current values of .io domains, that were relatively inexpensive to procure back then. Or, if you had clearly seen the prices brandable common single word .com domain names command today, the prices of 10 or 15 years ago would seem such a bargain. What will 5 years in the future hold? In 2016 an article in Harvard Business Review on Superforecasting suggested that It seems to me that domain names fit that description quite well. I will leave you with my personal prediction. I predict that in five years time domain name portfolios will be smaller, but of better quality. There will always be a need for assistance finding names for businesses, products, organizations, campaigns and creations, and I think our industry will gradually move toward a service model. We will help people find the right name, but it won’t necessarily be from our own portfolio. Yes, there will always be portfolios of names with clear demand, but fewer names of possible demand will be held. I hope you will share your opinions in the comments section. Research suggests that together our forecasting can be more robust and accurate than any of us working as individuals. The prediction tournaments that much of the research is based on, show that those in the 25 to 35 age group have the best forecasting abilities. So a special call-out for contributions from younger NamePros members. Also, don’t forget to add your predictions for 2026 to the thread started by Dave321, if you have not already done so.