- by David Goldstein -
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the world, with many businesses struggling, however some are thriving. One area of business that seems to be thriving are the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) around the world with many reporting increases in registration numbers.
A recent report from CENTR found the number of new domain names registered in April 2020 was up 20% on April 2019, based on a sample of 25 ccTLDs. CENTR found the increase even pushed up median domain growth rates of the CENTR30 (30 largest CENTR member ccTLDs) – something seldom seen over the past decade.
But only a small proportion of those domain names are directly related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. CENTR’s April 2020 study looked at newly registered domains in 12 ccTLDs in the first quarter of 2020 and found a combined total of 6,154 domains containing the terms covid, corona and/or virus out of over 751,000 newly registered domains in the same three-month period. The Covid-related domains represented just 0.8% of the total.
Looking at a few individual ccTLDs, InternetNZ reported they had seen the highest total number of .nz domain name registrations in two years, with registrations growing from 708,507 at the end of March to around 716,000 today. But only a small number of these, around 400, have terms related to COVID-19 or coronavirus in them. Meanwhile their neighbours at auDA reported 48,754 new .au domain names were created in April 2020 – “the biggest month for new domain name creations in some time.” By comparison there were 44,776 .au domain names created in March 2020 and 39,340 in April 2019. But while new .au registrations had increased, unlike in .nz, total registrations fell by around 18,000 to 3.169 million.
SIDN, the .nl ccTLD manager, reported the results of a survey conducted for them that found for the first time “all the start-ups who responded said that they had registered their domain names for use in online business activities. It’s the first time that no survey respondents have said they were planning offline business start-ups. That may well reflect the circumstances surrounding the current pandemic” they observed. There had been a slight uptick in total registrations for the Netherlands’ ccTLD with an increase of around 17,000 in the first 3 weeks of April while in the first 3 months of 2020, total registrations had increased by just over 8,000.
Meanwhile in Germany, there was an increase of 31,274 .de domain names from the end of March to the end of April taking the total to 16,416,044. This compares to an increase of 13,017 for April 2019 and a decrease of 9,815 in April 2018.
Explaining the reasoning behind the increased registrations, CENTR surmised the boost in new domains was linked to the changing business and employment landscape. As the lockdown considerably reduced in-person customers to high street shops and cast millions of workers into a precarious employment status, CENTR believes that businesses and individuals have had to adapt. “In order to cushion the impacts of falling revenues, traditional high street ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses have had to explore new and alternative ways of doing business. If a business did not have an online presence before, the pandemic has given a compelling reason to do so now. From fitness studios conducting classes online, theatres live-streaming shows and countless others rapidly upgrading their sites to include payment gateways for orders, an online presence is more important than ever.”