Domain Name Industry Report

Source: French Domain Name Industry Report – AFNIC

New Top Level Domains (nTLDs) accounted for 21% of the net growth of the domain name market in 2014
The recent publication of the ICANN reports for the month of December 2014 enables us to finally take stock of 2014, marked by the launch of the “new TLDs” (or “top-level domains”)  expected since their announcement by ICANN in Paris in June 2008.
We now have all the figures for 2014, so we  can provide an overview of market trends and outline an assessment of the impact of the nTLDs on the 18 “traditional” generic  top-level
domains  (known  as  “legacy  gTLDs”,  i.e. .com,  .net,  .org, .biz,  .info,  etc.)  and  the  countrycode TLDs (or “ccTLDs”).

Key figures

According  to  the  ICANN  reports  compiled  by  the  Afnic  Market  Research  team,  as  at  31/12/2014  there  were  approximately  158.6  million  domain  names  registered  under
gTLDs, of which 3.8 million were nTLDs.
These gTLDs, added to the 134 million ccTLDs counted by Verisign / Zooknic, result  in a total  of  292.6  million  domain  names  at  the  end  of  2014,  of  which  54%  were  gTLDs,
compared with 55% at year-end 2013.

The emergence of nTLDs, therefore, has not been sufficient to allow gTLDs to regain a growth rate higher than that of ccTLDs.

Global growth in the domain name market reached 6.5% in 2014 (Fig. 1), against 7.3% in 2013. However, this average masks contrasting dynamics.
The country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) continued to grow at a rate of 8.5%, that being a marked slowdown, however, compared with the two previous years.
The  .com  dropped  below  5%,  while  all  in  all  gTLDs,  boosted  by  the  nTLDs  introduced  in 2014,  experienced  a  slight  upswing  in  growth.  The  major  losers  appear  to  be  the  legacy gTLDs (except for the .com), which lost 3% in stock after having already lost 1.3% in 2013.



Live Bandwidth Reporting Gem

We’ve just released a new control panel ‘gem’ – our name for useful tools the enhance our customer’s service.

The bandwidth reporting gem gives customers a live view of their website’s bandwidth usage.


2020Media's new Bandwidth Gem
2020Media’s new Bandwidth Gem

The rest of this blog post is about how we created the functionality so non-techies can stop reading now!

Looking inside the code

mod_cband_exampleThis functionality was made possible because of mod_cband. mod_cband is an apache module that monitors and controls individual website bandwidth usage. It handily includes an xml output. We set parameters of the website and the server it’s hosted on. The script then loads the xml file from the relevant server and pulls out the data for the chosen site. There are three useful values:

  • Quota
  • Total used
  • Time until refresh

‘Quota’ is the hosting plan bandwidth quota – for example 10GB per month. Mod_cband does not allow calendar month periods, so we use 4 weeks (a hidden bonus on our hosting plans as customer effectively get up to 3 free days of bandwidth a month!). The ‘Time until refresh’ is a countdown to the time when the bandwidth ‘Total used’ is reset back to zero. Note the XML does not include the period over which the bandwidth is measured, but for 99% of sites we use 4 weeks so this is not a problem.

Taking this data, we can then create some pretty graphs to illustrate the website’s usage. We use the Google Chart APIGoogle chart tools are powerful, simple to use, and free. Try out our rich gallery of interactive charts and data tools. Using javascript librarys you can send some values and get back a lovely bar chart, timeline or as in our case, a pie chart.

 ['Used (MB)', <?php echo $used;?>],
 ['Unused (MB)', <?php echo $unused;?>],

The resulting graphic includes nice rollovers and is extensively customisable (although of course there are always one thing you want to do that isn’t supported!).

We also wanted to show customers how long their site had left before the quota was reset. In the xml feed, this comes out of mod_cband as “Time to Refresh”:

<time_to_refresh>3W 0D 01:03:17</time_to_refresh>

Not the ideal parameter to work with! However we can do some conversions and math on it, to work out the start date and end date of the period.

$wdhms = convertdate($refresh);  // converts time_to_refresh into seconds
$totaltime = 2419200; // number of seconds in 4 weeks
$today = time();
$timeused = $totaltime - $wdhms;
$startdate = ($today - $timeused);
$enddate= ($today + $wdhms);

Then we use another Google Javascript library to display this in a calendar format. We chose datepicker as it’s well documented and fits in well with the javascript based pie-chart  used in the bandwidth representation.

The datepicker setup is very similar to the piechart:

    beforeShowDay: function(date) {
    var date1 = $.datepicker.parseDate($.datepicker._defaults.dateFormat,"<?php echo date('m/d/Y',$startdate);?>");
// Date format MM/DD/YYYY
    var date2 = $.datepicker.parseDate($.datepicker._defaults.dateFormat, "<?php echo date('m/d/Y',$enddate);?>");
    return [true, date1 && ((date.getTime() == date1.getTime()) || (date2 && date >= date1 && date <= date2)) ? "dp-highlight" : ""];

Div tags are used to layout the information as in the screenshot above. These will flow nicely on small screen devices, as we aim to make all our customer-facing websites fully responsive.

Future plans

We aim to add this reporting functionality across other services such as broadband.


SEO – is a SLA necessary?

If like us, you are bombarded every day with emails about search engine optimisation, perhaps you’ve been tempted to give them a try?

First Rank is a local Winnipeg based search engine marketing agency. If you’re interested I’d be happy to sit down with you to discuss a few options you could implement to help grow your business using online marketing.

The emails promise the earth, but how will you know if your money is being well spent?

We strongly believe that we have an excellent opportunity to increase the number of visitors to your website through our white-hat SEO services at a very affordable price. Email us back to get a full proposal.

One way to do this is to set out clear deliverables, just as you would expect when you contract with any other business service.

Is this your SEO provider?
Is this your SEO provider?

When defining the SEO services, great care should be taken to ensure that both the service provider and the client are fully aware of the services that are to be provided, and how they are to be provided. Both positive and negative obligations (e.g. the client may not wish the service provider to bid for certain keywords without authorisation) should be set out.

Services being provided should be explicit. There are a broad range of SEO services ranging from simple on-page optimisation to combinations of copywriting, PPC campaign management, social media management and more. It is therefore up to you to define the scope of the SEO services precisely and in depth in your agreement.

You may also have your reputation to consider – you don’t want your brand to be tarnished by so-called “black hat” SEO techniques. Provision should be made for the client to provide so-called “brand guidelines” in which they may specify how their business name, trade marks, image and other related aspects of their brand may be used by the service provider in the course of managing their SEO. Such guidelines may be particularly relevant when considering aspects of SEO such as PPC campaigns and social media management.

SEO typically has the aim of increasing traffic to the client’s website. Other targets can include higher social media engagement (eg more “Likes” on Facebook, more followers on Twitter). These are measurable things, so in an SEO service level agreement, these should be clearly set out. Never settle for a non-measurable result. It’s a clear sign of something shady going on.

Your SEO consultant hard at work?
Your SEO consultant hard at work?

Various options are available to deal with the eventuality of the service levels not being met, including the provision of cost-free services to make up for deficiencies and a right to immediately terminate the contract in the event of multiple failures. However, sometimes the cause of such failure can be attributed to the client (who may, for example, have failed to provide certain information or authorisation on time) and so the service provider is absolved of responsibility.

Key SLA schedules

  1.  The SEO Services
  2. The Service Levels
  3. The Deliverables
  4. The Fees
  5. The Client’s Brand Guidelines

Whilst the prospective provider of SEO services may well already have a contract, if you are intending to invest significant resources in SEO this should be read carefully. Vague promises in an email by a junior salesperson could be interpreted very differently in the actual terms and conditions of the provider.

Deliverables? How Long is a Piece of String?
Deliverables? How Long is a Piece of String?

We’ve found an excellent template SEO Service Level agreement from Simply Docs. This can be used as a standalone agreement with a SEO company, or provider a check-list to compare against their own terms and conditions and promises.

Their SEO SLA template can be found at We believe it costs £35+vat but this does give access to 580 other business documents.

Do you have any stories to share about SEO consultants? What has worked well for you?

2020Media does not offer Search Engine Optimisation and we’ve usually gone for in-house optimisation work for our own websites. We do provide a couple of great tools that help you with SEO – both if you do it yourself, or if you use a outside provider.

SEO Panel

SEO Panel is a open source tool provided by 2020Media to all it’s customers. The tool tracks the presence and position of websites in the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. We send monthly reports by email. Read More…

Piwik Analytics

Piwik analytics is not a widely known name, but they offer a private version of website visitor analytics in a very similar style to Google Analytics. They are easy to understand and give detailed figures for visitor numbers, page views etc. Custom variable can be setup for deliverable tracking.  Read more…
Good luck with your SEO!

Singapore ICANN meeting report

Now the dust has settled on the 52nd ICANN Meeting, held this time in Singapore from 8-12 February, it’s time to look at what went on.

Around 1800 participants on-site, making it yet again one of the largest in-person meetings, and of course the remote participation via video and live transcript enabled the rest of the world to join in, if they wanted to.

ICANN logo
ICANN is a non-profit corporation that has responsibility for internet names and numbers

The issues surrounding the transition of IANA stewardship and ICANN accountability were again at the top of the agenda.

ICANN Accountability

The Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) met numerous times during the week to continue its work identifying and developing solutions to accountability concerns, with a particular focus on those issues which the group identifies as critical ahead of the IANA stewardship transition. The link between these accountability solutions and a successful transition of the IANA stewardship was again emphasised by participants including Lawrence Strickling, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Transition of IANA stewardship

Coming up with a names community proposal is hard: While numbers and protocols have done their draft proposals (the Internet numbers community has submitted its proposal for future stewardship of the number-related IANA functions to the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group. This proposal, and the counterpart proposal regarding the IANA protocol parameter registries developed within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), were discussed in various ICANN 52 sessions) the domain names world has proved much harder.This is partly because ICANN is the policy forum for the domain name sector and also operates the IANA functions. Numbers and protocols are separate, so there’s an arms length relationship.

Lawrence E. Strickling
Larry Strickling

Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling, said he’s seen constructive progress though. “I was pleased to see the amount of energy and professionalism exhibited by the nearly 1800 participants at the ICANN meeting. The Internet’s stakeholders are driving this transition and are demonstrating that businesses, technical experts, and civil society groups are best equipped to set the future direction of the Internet.  Under this multistakeholder model, no one party can control the Internet or impose its will. And that’s what’s enabled the Internet to flourish and evolve into this global medium that has torn down barriers to free speech and fueled economic growth and innovation.

 It is so important that we get this transition right. If it doesn’t take place, we will embolden authoritarian regimes to seek greater government control of the Internet or to threaten to fragment the Internet, which would result in a global patchwork of regulations and rules that stifle the free flow of information.”

Some say there is friction between the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and other stakeholders.  Brian J Winterfeldt, head of the internet practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman, observed friction between the CCWG and GAC. While the CCWG has focused specifically on the names and country codes found on the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 3166-1 list, the GAC’s focus is wider and there was a concern expressed that the two were overlapping. For her part, Olga Cavalli, the GAC representative from Argentina, responded that the two work streams are complementary – each offering a different perspective.

Providing an update to the IPC today, Heather Forrest, co-chair of the cross-community working group (CCWG) on use of country/territory names as TLDs, expressed frustration that the CCWG’s “engagement with the GAC has been fairly combative”, and lamented the lack of liaison on the issue: “[For instance] the GAC is representing its proposal on geographic names and a panel had been convened with four invitees – with not a single stakeholder group included in the list of invitations, and this is concerning. In the GNSO council there was a fair amount of consternation at this and at a face-to-face discussion this week I simply asked why we weren’t invited. This has resulted in an invitation but my point was really that I wanted the GNSO represented.”

Stakeholders have organized two major work streams to develop the overall plan:  one group is focused on the specifics of the IANA functions and the second is addressing questions of the overall accountability of ICANN to the global community of Internet stakeholders.  These  discussions are open to all so if you have a point of view, please use the links above to be heard.


500+ New gTLDs Introduced

ICANN has announced the 500th new gTLD.

The gTLD .NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) was the 500th new gTLD to be delegated, with new domains rolling out at an average of one per day.

The New gTLD Program is the Internet’s largest expansion ever, introducing hundreds of new top-level domain names or “strings” which could become available in the next few years. With the first four strings delegated on 23 October 2014, the Program continues to make advancements and enable enhanced competition, innovation and choice.

A few days ago, ICANN updated delegates at the Singapore ICANN meeting, and the video and transcript is available online:

The 2012 round of the New gTLD Program is well underway and the next application round is on the horizon