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strategy Predicting The Future Of Domain Names

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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.
  1. Several responders feel that the world will become increasingly online, meaning a need for more domain names, so the future is bright.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Related to domains as an asset class, many are predicting that the time has finally come for fractional domain ownership.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. One person reasonably speculated that legal issues will become more common, and that domain lawyers will be in demand.
  11. 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
I think there is a whole generation of investors coming that will will see domains as investment opportunities. As they get used to bitcoin, purchasing everything online, managing their portfolios online, etc. They will start seeing domains as assets and paying out good money for them. The populations response to online purchasing during the pandemic was a tipping point, in my opinion.

infosec3
It will only get better: More sales, higher value... The future of the world is virtual and domains will continue to rule the virtual world for at least the next few decades. Of course, I would not be surprised if, after that, a new technology emerges that completely transforms the virtual space and makes domains less relevant or even worthless. But, I would give it 30 to 50 years.

TheBaldOne
Even small businesses will start acquiring portfolios of domains to support their main domain website marketing.
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
I am seeing more and more small business owners wanting to create a brand on a wholly-owned domain and website. That's good news. It will allow them to separate their brand from any negative press that social sites may receive in the future.

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
Research by Wharton professor Philip Tetlock shows that people who consider multiple points of view make better predictions than those who hew to one perspective. Steven Johnson concurs, recommending that decision makers cultivate diverse voices to avoid blind spots.
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
But if you take a collective view by bringing together and combining the predictions of lots of different people you get to a more accurate result because they all hold different pieces of information that help to build a more complete picture overall. By combining those individual forecasts you’re also cancelling out, perhaps, some of the biases or inaccuracies that might exist in one individual forecast alone.
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
Those that were here five years ago, does five years in the future make you think about changing what you are doing now?
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
In prognosticating about AI, Martin Rees notes that machines will enable us to make better predictions about everything from which stocks will soar to which diseases will do us in.
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
Companies should focus on is forecasts for which some data, logic, and analysis can be used but seasoned judgment and careful questioning also play key roles.
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.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

Omotayo1

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Great Article as always
 
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oldtimer

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@Bob Hawkes , thanks for another thought provoking thread,

I had mentioned this in a few of my threads and posts in the past, but I believe that at the time it went kind of unnoticed, but I believe that we are going to see a revolution in the domain Industry as Artificial Intelligence systems (and entities) become more commonly used for all matters concerning domains and websites.

I also predict here that with the introduction of more powerful quantum computers along with getting AI directly involved in searching for domains we might see a few million new domains registered in a span of a very short time that nobody had been able to think of before.

It will also become much easier to sell domain names since when CEOs of big corporations and companies ask their AI to find a certain domain name for them to buy your AI will become instantly aware of that request (through the network that all AIs are going to be a part of) and will present your domain as an alternative to their AI to show to them if it matched what they were looking for.

PS: I have made a placeholder for the domain HelloDomainNames.com that I recently registered which is the prelude to what we can expect to see in the near future.

IMO
 
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Great article again Bob.

Its always quite nice to rewind in time on Namepros and look at past post in time, that'll give an idea of thoughts and questions of people previously.
 
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handpicked

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Thanks Bob for the insightful ariticle, IMO, Branding is the truck that carries the domain names, hence, whether the business landscape will continue to be dominated by a few big historic brands or will smaller and smarter brands mushroom and take over in years to come? needs to be seen. The latter will open up more opportunities for creative domainers, I guess. PS: I am no expert or domainer, I'm a factory worker with interest in branding and businesses.
 
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Mytz.com

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thanks sharing
 
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jim h

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Great Article as always , thank you.
 
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Technical Support

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Very nice and informative content, thanks for sharing this valuable asset
 
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Mister Funsky

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Thanks Bob for another well written article. Over the weekend I am going to put the 'where will things be in 5 years' question in the back of my mind...maybe my subconscious can come up with something (the conscious part is currently running on empty!) :xf.smile:
 
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oldtimer

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Thanks Bob for another well written article. Over the weekend I am going to put the 'where will things be in 5 years' question in the back of my mind...maybe my subconscious can come up with something (the conscious part is currently running on empty!) :xf.smile:

Here is something for you to think about to get some ideas,

I believe that our lives are going to continue to be directly and indirectly affected by the Pandemic for the next few decades and as such we must make certain long term plans (for the next 20 or 30 years at least) in order to be able to meet all the challenges that we are going to have to face in the future both from the medical point of view and the economical aspect of things.

We have to rethink how we as a society are going to function as far as people being able to survive if they can't go back to their old jobs since many businesses might not be able to operate in full capacity and some that have closed down might not be able to reopen again.

I believe that we have to revamp the society as a whole in a major way and find new ways for people to be able to make a living and take care of themselves and their families. It is very important to provide assistance to those who are facing hardship and help them before their situation gets worse.

Whether the answer is for people to go fully digital and make their living online or whether they need to be helped through social services and charitable organizations, but one thing is for sure:

The days of the haves and have nots has to come to an end and we all have to be willing to help one another if we are going to be able to come out of this Pandemic in one piece.

The sooner we face this reality the better off we are going to be in the future as a civilization.

IMO
 
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inflation is going to sky rocket, everyone will print endless money until the complete collapse, during that time assets like domains will explode in their pricing and that will drive investors / gamblers into this sector and take prices to levels nobody imagined. This already happened in other sectors and it will come to domaining and in some way it already started. Take a good hard look at domain auctions and some of the prices of domains in the past few months. We are very close to a breakout point whereas those holding good names will either keep their pricing for the old world and lose money or reprice their names and make money.
 
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DuDD

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  • With the advent of 5G era, domain names will be more and more valuable
    thank you Bob
  • best regards
 
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Hankish

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5 years:
a new "com" (kom) will be invited by the "authoritative registry" Verisign, it will have new https, SSL/security features, and a newer DNSSEC built in. You'll probability have to apply to get one.

sub.domains."kom", or like now, [user].medium/social-site will be the new domain. As it is easier to be found "on site" than from serps. It will BE EASIER AS AN END USER to use the platform/vendor locked tools and services of these new social sites; especially due to legal reason (obey EU laws everywhere, data responsibility, dom/cookie usage...). I see more Company-TLDs used for user subdomains eg: user.social.apple // user.account.amazon. With "@" replacing email.
  • Digital apartments replacing the digital estates of yesteryear.


There could be many "internets", tor/onion like systems of "trust", I do see .apple trying this.

10g broadband Might bring more DDNS, but most of these will be looking for cheap-yearly and cool.

10g+ipv6 (nearing 8) ISP, if they pass-out static ipv6 blocks, will issue sud-D like it does email.


Due to voice tech the best ngTLDs will bring the highest prices, with nngTLDs being added.

Geo-sharing domains might be a real thing.

Desktop as a Service
will bring most SaaS to os-based apps. Basically the next browser will be VPS/thin-client.



or

More countries build "Great Firewalls" so as to enforce their own laws. Resetting the TLDs as we know them.
........................................
COM is not king...just the man with one eye in the land of the blind.
 
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Future Sensors

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a new "com" (kom) will be invited by the "authoritative registry" Verisign, it will have new https, SSL/security features, and a newer DNSSEC built in. You'll probability have to apply to get one.

Could you please explain what you mean with "DNSSEC built in"? Perhaps you meant "mandatory" for a TLD? (like HSTS for the .app TLD). Also I'd like to stress that slow adoption of DNSSEC has been more about the resolving and verifying end than just putting it on by a domain administrator. We'll have to see how adoption rates will grow from now on.
 
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Hankish

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Could you please explain what you mean with "DNSSEC built in"? Perhaps you meant "mandatory" for a TLD? (like HSTS for the .app TLD). Also I'd like to stress that slow adoption of DNSSEC has been more about the resolving and verifying end than just putting it on by a domain administrator. We'll have to see how adoption rate will grow from now on.
"a newer DNSSEC built in"
Centrally located / Mono Sourced / Top controlled / Master Resolver... more post-DNSSEC

I just forsee a more controlled "stack-backed next-gen TLD" soon. More of how DANE is bound, I think next-gen tldes will be backended. Where how dns is used now is merely just a layer on top. Domains will become more that a proper noun to an ip address. ...not that I know how.
 
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Future Sensors

78% of human domainers will be replaced by robotsTop Member
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"a newer DNSSEC built in"
Centrally located / Mono Sourced / Top controlled / Master Resolver... more post-DNSSEC

DNSSEC already starts at the signed root. Don't know what you mean, sorry.
 
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Jimmysun

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As I expected the xyz exceeded .top becoming the number 1 ngtld, it will make a conspicuous figure in next 5 years.

.crypto will become the new gen’s choices.

I hope .xyz can be adopted by all the blockchain using it as an wallet address.
 
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our industry will gradually move toward a service model. We will help people find the right name,
😃 in my culture, specially in the ancient times while there is a New baby...the parents may goto their trusted and respected master(who basically more knowledgeable), to ask a name for the baby...so, now, in 2026, we will play same role, like an ancient intellectual to provide a naming service to start ups...I love this idea...🚀
 
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dave321

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wow what a fascinating well researched article on predicting trends. Very original and full of great ideas Thanks!...Im blown away. Next time I ask a question Ill make sure to step back 50 feet lol
 
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Levi_charlz

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Fascinating article I will refer back to again and again. Thank you @Bob Hawkes

I have taken several measures to future proof my domain investments and ensure that my family inherit my most valuable domains (should anything happen).

After learning about Bookings.com recent successful US trademark registration and the rapidly evolving decentralised web (.Zil, .Crypto, .Eth) I also made steps to legally secure Trademarks and purchased the decentralised counterparts for my most valuable domains in an attempt to future proof them.

If I was an investor/business about to part with serious money for a .com domain, I would want all my bases covered.

Using ‘GlobalStablecoins.com®’ as an example I hope that the following steps I have taken will also add value and security to potential buyers.

1. Registered for max 10 years
2. Registered U.K. Trademark (US planned)
3. Registered .Eth, .Zil, .Crypto and several other TLD’s

Has anyone else made such measures?
 
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Ngawangtashi

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the future is insanely digital so sooner or later eveybody has to adopt digitally so yes domain future is absouketly bright and soon will be taken as mainstream investment option.
 
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Ngawangtashi

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tho i am very much new to this plattform
 
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TauseefKhan

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An interesting take. Thanks
 
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