TLD Talks: An Interview with Mariah Reilly of Donuts
When we thought about who would be the right person to discuss TLDs with, including legacy TLDs and the future of the domain industry, we couldn’t think of a better person than Mariah Reilly of Donuts Inc. Donuts has a portfolio of 242 TLDs, meaning they know a thing or two about what it’s like to market across various industries and audiences. Read our interview with Mariah below that discusses premium domains, compares new TLDs to legacy TLDs, talks about who is actually using new TLDs, and more!
Ana: Donuts has 242 top-level domains. Tell us about how you manage and market this vast portfolio?
Mariah: We’re fortunate to have 242 TLDs, a portfolio that makes sense for broad and specific audiences. Several of our “generic” TLDs such as .live, .today, .group and .life appeal to a wide variety of individuals and businesses and have high registration volume. It’s fun to see how registrants use these domain names to represent their online identity in unique and interesting ways.
As for more specific TLDs, Donuts strategically acquired groups of vertically-relevant TLDs that represent 20 of the largest industries with huge online growth projections. We have somewhere between 10-20 TLDs for these categories, which include, but aren’t limited to, Entertainment & Gaming, Real Estate, Home & Construction, Food & Beverage and Travel & Geography. We’re present at large category and start-up events to educate people about the real value new TLDs can deliver to innovators in those categories.
A: What distinguishes new TLDs from legacy TLDs and why should businesses consider something other than legacy TLDs such as .com or .net?
M: New TLDs are playing an important role in this next generation of the Internet. No longer do businesses think about just one website and one Internet address. Rather, they must manage several online customer touchpoints including websites, social media, customer review sites, voice search, branded short links and other properties requiring relevant, memorable domain names.
New TLDs - from Donuts and other registries - offer domain name choices suitable for any of those touchpoints. New TLDs are category-specific to make meaningful brand connections, readable from the left to right of the dot, and keyword-rich to support a business’ SEO strategy.
Now, awareness for new TLDs is still growing, but we’re seeing more businesses - large and small - than ever before registering and using our names in impactful ways. Registrars are noticing too and finding ways to better present new TLD names to their individual customers. HEXONET is a perfect example. We love that your users can personalize their searches to pinpoint the best, most relevant domain names for their digital identities.
A: Who’s using new TLD domain names and how?
M: Companies of all sizes, from global, household name brands to innovative startups you haven’t (yet!) heard of. Among large brands, DXC Technology is a billion-dollar multinational using dxc.technology as its primary domain name and integrates the URL into the corporate brand, which displays prominently from the global headquarters in metropolitan Washington, DC. T-Mobile, the fastest-growing and number two US mobile carrier, uses tmobile.careers for its stand-alone recruiting website. xBox uses xbox.games for SEO purposes so that their website ranks high in search results for people searching for the coolest new games to play.
Among smaller businesses, we see that entrepreneurs in more innovative industries are highly likely to register new TLD domain names. Entrepreneurs creating “what’s next” are more interested in disruption, so they are willing to forego legacy TLDs and use new TLDs for their domains. Some of my favorite examples are like.video, an up-and-coming video social network; armoire.style, a luxury fashion rental brand; and drink.haus, a hot new direct-to-consumer alcohol beverage brand. The domain names are exact matches to their brand names, so the domain name choice was a no-brainer.
A: Which TLD categories are showing the most success? Which have the most potential?
M: With a large portfolio, it’s important that we focus on success at the TLD level. We use several KPIs to measure success for each. We look at domains under management (DUM) trends to track growth rates for each. Additionally, we measure TLD health using renewal, usage, abuse rates, and other measures to monitor and ensure our TLDs aren’t coopted by spammers and other bad online actors. So far we’ve had good success doing so and will be vigilant going forward.
Based on that criteria, our most popular TLDs are .live, .world, .ltd and .life. Categories with extremely high health scores include Healthcare, Law, Home & Construction, and Travel.
A: Tell us about Donuts’ premium domain portfolio?
M: Donuts has more than two million domain names we categorize as “premium”. Premium domain names cost more than standard names and are usually short, generic and keyword-rich. Businesses pay a premium upfront to get the best names for their businesses so they can save significant marketing and advertising dollars down the road.
To correctly identify premium domain names, we use a lot of art – industry experience – and science – machine learning and market testing – to set and optimize prices over time. Premium domains represent a significant share of our annual revenue. We are implementing a price change on November 5th, when many premium domains will reduce in price, making them more accessible to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking domain names that work the hardest to drive website traffic and sales.
A: How do you see the domain industry changing in the next 10 years?
M: The domain industry will change because the way people access the Internet is changing every day. We see smart businesses owning a suite of domain names to build and own their digital identities. In addition to a core website, brands will increasingly need several relevant, memorable meaningful, and soon say-able domain names for their content-specific deep links, promotional microsites, voice command devices, social media, and branded short links.
Companies that use domain names with real words – which new TLDs can deliver – will have a competitive online edge. We know this because our recent research study shows that 7 out of 10 people prefer domain names and links using real words versus meaningless characters. And we’re excited that new TLDs provide just that.