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Why businesses aren't picking domain names

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 27 February 2020, 5:17 pm

One of the hardest things when starting  a new project or business is coming up with a name that isn't already taken in the online space. If you want to register a domain name under .nz or or even .com, you can find yourself out of luck.

Which accounts for all those company names with missing vowels, or two unrelated words shoved together. It's a choice of modifying your name of choice, coming up with a new name or paying to get the one you want.

One very successful entrepreneur told me that he wouldn't have started his business if he hadn't been able to secure the exact domain name he wanted. And, Business Insider writes about the lengths that Rod Drury went to secure from a Linkin Park fan ('Xero' was the band's original name), who they flew over from the US: "The administrator was wined and dined, and taken around to see the sights in New Zealand. Having softened him up with Kiwi hospitality, Drury finally convinced him to take $US20,000 for the domain name."

So it was surprising to see a blog post from David Morrison, Commercial Director at InternetNZ today noting that many new businesses are not investing in their own websites and are instead reaching customers online via social media sites. As a result there is a reduction in the number of domain names registrations - a trend that's occurring around the world.

Morrison writes that two years ago, .nz domain registrations were 706,086, and registrations rose until the end of 2018, reaching a peak of 719,266. The past four quarters have seen steady decline, so that the number of domains is now 709,883.

"With the rise of social media, we're seeing businesses choose to forgo a web domain in favour of using a Facebook page or Instagram account as their business hub," Morrison writes.

"Some storytellers and influencers are also migrating from personal sites toward individual channels on Medium, Blogger, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. But there's a risk here-those creating and sharing unique content on these channels can lose ownership of that content. And in a world where content is king, brands need to protect their identity."

As you might expect, Morrison is keen on changing the downward trajectory for domain name registration, but he has a valid point - why would you put the fate of your business in the hands of a platform owned by someone else? Sure, use Facebook etc to engage with your customers, but why not maintain control over your own brand? It baffles me, especially as creating a website is so much easier than it used to be.

UPDATE: InternetNZ announced on 28 February that the wholesale .nz domain name registration fee will change from $1.25 a month to $1.50 a month. The new wholesale price will be effective from 1 June 2020. You can read the press release here and the Techblog post here


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