Economic Study FAQs

  1. Why did ICANN commission this study?
    1. As part of the upcoming Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice (CCT) review of the New gTLD Program, the ICANN Board adopted 66 recommended metrics from an Implementation Advisory Group made up of ICANN community members. Among the 66 metrics were a subset of three identified as best being measured by an independent economic study. Though the CCT Review is not scheduled to begin until early 2016, the ICANN Board adopted this recommendation to commission an economic study in March 2014 at the ICANN 51 meeting in Singapore to establish a baseline of competitive effects in the domain name marketplace as soon as possible. A second study is planned in a year’s time to allow for comparisons. Subsequent to adopting the recommendation to commission the study, the Board approved an RFP process. ICANN signed a contract with Analysis Group to conduct the study in February 2015. The metrics included in the study capture how competition has been impacted in the domain name marketplace before and after the introduction of new gTLDs.
  2. How was the sample of gTLDs constructed?
    1. Analysis Group constructed a sample of 109 new gTLDs, whose registration figures and pricing data would be included in the study; 14 so-called legacy gTLDs which existed prior to the expansion; and 15 ccTLDs to ensure geographic diversity. However, the majority of ccTLDs did not provide wholesale data. Registration volumes for ccTLDs also were not available.

    The TLDs were selected using a multi-step process:

    1. First, gTLDs with historically higher registration volumes and those available for purchase with Monthly Transaction Reports as of March 2015 were included. This includes 14 so-called legacy gTLDs, which existed prior to expansion: .COM, .ORG, .NET., .ASIA, .MOBI, .. Eight were excluded because they were reserved for specific entities with restrictive registration requirements: .GOV, .EDU, .MIL, .INT, .AERO, .COOP, .POST, and .MUSEUM.
    2. Analysis Group then included those new gTLDs with the highest registration numbers for September-November 2014.
    3. Any new gTLDs whose strings were similar in name and likely purpose were added to allow for comparisons between gTLDs likely targeting the same customer base. For example, if .WORK had been included, Analysis Group would have also included .CAREER, .JOBS, etc.
    4. The resulting new gTLDs were examined to confirm geographic diversity and ensure that it included “community” strings. Within the sample, there are at least five IDNs and at least five “community” strings.
    5. In addition, three ccTLDs per each of ICANN’s five geographic regions were selected to ensure sufficient geographic diversity. The three selected ccTLDs reflected the highest number of domain name registrations, which were open for registration.
  3. Which TLDs were included in the sample?
    1. The exact TLDs included in the sample – with the exception of those that existed prior to expansion -- will not be disclosed to preserve the confidentiality of pricing information.
  4. Can I see the data set?
    1. No. In order to preserve confidentiality of registry and registrar pricing data, only Analysis Group has access to the complete data set with TLDs and related pricing information. ICANN did not collect nor had access to any of the confidential pricing data used in the study. All data presented in the report is, to the extent possible, aggregated and anonymized.
  5. How was pricing information obtained for the gTLDs included in the study?
    1. Analysis Group requested and directly collected sunrise and wholesale pricing data from the registry operators. While some legacy TLD registries provided data, most data on historic legacy TLD wholesale prices were collected from official price change correspondence between operating registries and ICANN, available at https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/correspondence-2012-09-24-en. The majority of ccTLD registry operators did not provide wholesale data.

      Retail pricing was more challenging to obtain. Requests for current and historical data were sent to all registrars in the sample. Only six registrars, all from the Asia Pacific region, provided some form of historical data. These responsive registrars accounted for only 14% of registration volume of the new gTLDs being sampled and did not provide any regional geographic variation. Consequently, Analysis Group collected posted retail prices from the sampled registrars’ websites. However, many registrars in the original sample (which was based on registration volumes of new gTLDs) did not offer publicly-available pricing information. As a result, retail price information was collected from 39 of the original 54 registrars in the sample. Analysis Group also used registrars’ websites to collect data on add-on services like hosting, email, forward services and others.

      In addition, Analysis Group received no data from secondary market institutions; such data would have allowed for better investigation of how consumers value different domain names at legacy TLDs and new gTLDs.

  6. How did Analysis Group obtain registration volumes?
    1. Publicly-available transaction reports for each TLD, which provide information on historical registration volumes, were collected from ICANN’s website at https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/reports-2014-03-04-en. These reports detail how many registrations each registrar was responsible for in each month. Historical registration volume data was unavailable for ccTLDs.