Country code top-level domains are essential elements of the DNS. They were specially designed for a particular country, sovereign state or autonomous territory based on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2. ccTLDs are particularly popular in Europe, where they are widely and successfully used.
With the aim to promote and participate in the development of European ccTLDs, CENTR (Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries) coordinates ccTLD registries and collaborates with them to reach high standards. As the Chairwoman of CENTR's Board of Directors and Head of .si Registry, the registry for the Slovanian country code TLD, Barbara Povše is a true expert and a renowned name in the domain industry. With an academic background in mathematics, she started her career with the Academic and Research Network of Slovenia (ARNES) in 1994. Within this public institute, she has become the head of the Slovenian ccTLD.
We welcome Barbara to “It’s all about domains”, our interview series with experts from the domain industry. Today, she will help us shed light on the multi-faceted and vibrant ccTLD scene in Europe.
Why are ccTLDs still so popular in Europe?
It is true that European ccTLDs generally have a larger market share compared to gTLDs. There are many reasons for this. These are the main ones:
- Having a local address and identity is important to customers.
- European ccTLDs pay a lot of attention to the safety and security of operations.
- National legislation governs our business and protects domain name holders.
- Local registrars offer registration in national languages.
- Disputes are easily solved.
ccTLDs are our national online identity, so most customers prefer to use a local ccTLD for their online address and as a trademark for their business. Boosted by the pandemic and the need of businesses to be online, in 2020 the domain name growth rate for European ccTLDs was significantly higher than in previous years.
But European ccTLD operators are keeping an eye to the first renewal cycle for domain registrations in 2020. There is a high likelihood that registrants will let their domain expire after the first year. Making predictions during this unique period is challenging, but we remain optimistic, especially since the demand for new domain registrations increased in the first quarter of 2021. CENTR data also shows the average parking and error rates among ccTLDs to be significantly lower than equivalent rates among the top 100 gTLDs. This is significant as the usage (or its lack) of domain names strongly impacts the retention of domains.
A multi-year domain registration gives you precisely the long-term perspective your business needs. And it comes with significant advantages.
How are prices developing for ccTLDs? Are the national registries moving differently?
According to CENTR statistics, the prices have been mainly stable for the last couple of years. The median buy price of European ccTLDs is 10 EUR, with a renewal price of 14 EUR. Prices vary a bit according to the ccTLD, but there are no significant differences. Some registries occasionally offer promotional prices for registrations. Still, often the renewal rate of discounted domain names is much lower, which means that this does not have the desired positive long-term impact on domain name growth.
CENTR creates a quarterly Global TLD report. How do you manage to collect and sample data from so many registries?
The CENTRstats dashboards provide an impressive amount of information on domain name growth, registrar pricing, member surveys on different topics that help CENTR members plan our operations, compare each other to other ccTLDs, and in general prepare for the future, effectively acting as a crystal ball.
CENTR currently counts 53 full and nine associate members. Together, they are responsible for over 80% of all registered domains worldwide. Each CENTR member provides statistical data for our respective registries, and CENTR also uses additional sources to gather data. The primary sources for ccTLD data are CENTR members, APNIC (Asian-Pacific ccTLD organization), Net Knowledge, and Zooknic. gTLD data comes from ICANN and direct zone downloads with gTLD operators.