The Brandable Insider: Identifying Milestones and Trends from 2016

As 2017 rolls clearly into view I’m looking back at the events and forces that shaped the brandable domaining space this past year. From where I sit there were a number of notable changes and events that impacted the brandable domain niche and could have an influence on our domain strategies moving forward. They’re at least worth noting and considering as we look ahead, evaluate and visualize for the coming year.

Sales & inventory are up
Self-reported sales at leading brandable marketplaces continue to improve. Although they’ve yet to release their 2016 sales totals, BrandBucket reported in their May Sellers Newsletter, that “Q1 sales dramatically outpaced last year’s Q1 and early Q2 sales.” This indicates a potentially strong sales increase year over year. Simultaneously, brandable marketplace inventories increased dramatically with some marketplaces almost doubling their 2015 inventory levels.

In addition, Uniregistry released data on thousands of dot-com, end user sales. This included brandable domains like SportsPal ($44k) Humann ($39k) and SmartShip ($37k). Mike Mann continued tweeting his brandable transactions including dot-com sales like EqualityHealth ($30k), MagicLens ($19k) TheVerticle ($15k), SalonTime ($8.5k) and GoodbyeFat ($4k).

Hand registrations still a grind
For years people have been saying that hand registration is dead. However, small numbers of industrious domainers continue to mine and sell brandables from the ocean of unregistered domain names. What has changed in 2016 is that unregistered, saleable quality names have become much more scarce. This means it’s very time consuming to find brandable domains for hand registration. As a result more and more experienced domainers are shopping in the aftermarket, particularly the expiring domain auctions at GoDaddy.

Aftermarket demand increasing
As discussed in last week’s blog and comments, increased demand from both domainers, brokers and end users has bumped up aftermarket prices significantly this past year. Although this creates new challenges for those domainers looking to acquire brandables for resale, it also means names in our existing portfolios are rising in value too. So that’s a potential silver lining.

Domainer awareness rising
NamePros – Brandables reached a symbolic popularity milestone last year when the NamePros forum added a Brandable Domains Discussion category next to its other niches topics such as Numerics, Chinese, Short and International Domains.

NamesCon 2016 – Last year’s conference featured brandables in at least two sessions. One as a table topic hosted by Angela St. Julien of Brand.bar and the other as a panel discussion featuring the founders of BrandRoot, BrandBucket and Namerific.

Domain Sherpa – Brandables were the main topic for more than one Domain Sherpa show in 2016. DNgeek’s own Doron Vermaat as well as Brand Bucket Ambassador, Jeffrey Emerick were each the focus of a full DS show. In addition there were guest appearances by people like Michael Krell, the Managing Director of BrandBucket.

Naming trends evolve
Last year we also saw 5 letter domains becoming a more popular brandable choice for end users. In addition, double-letter brandables like Adviise dot-com came into fashion. Meanwhile, new keywords rose in popularity, especially at the BrandBucket platform, including terms like zen, care, sentry, vault, lab, desk, farm, agro, chimp, swap, layer, focus, scout, crop, scale, bolt, funnel and bench.

Marketplace growth
We also witnessed the birth of a new brandable marketplace, MatchSuite.com run by veteran domain broker, Ryan Colby. Meanwhile existing brandable marketplaces made upgrades and changes to improve seller experience and participation. BrandBucket added a sophisticated set of metric-driven, tools to their seller dashboard plus a private chat platform and other benefits for their sellers in good standing. Likewise Brandroot added new features for its sellers including a back end, program called, Brandlytics.

These are the milestones and trends that I saw driving and expanding the brandable market this year.

What were your observations? What do you see for the brandable market in 2017? Let us know in the comment section below.

And don’t forget these intriguing, brandable domain auctions coming up at NameJet this week!

Keith deBoer

Keith DeBoer is a part-time, domain investor with an emphasis on brandable domains. He's a domain industry writer with published content at BrandBucket, DomainShane and NamePros. He's also a brand ambassador for BrandBucket and by day, he works as an Internet consultant.

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