Sep 26, 2019 - by Tyler Mason

Domain Name Principles: Managing Portfolio Growth

It’s not uncommon for companies to struggle with right-sizing their domain name portfolios. In our recent survey of corporate domain professionals, 69% of respondents said that paring back bloated portfolios was a challenge. For those willing to accept the risk of paring portfolios, domain professionals first need to critically evaluate their current inventory. Understanding geographic coverage, matching trademark registrations, and numbers of registrations per brand can be helpful in identifying where to potentially cut domains. It may also uncover where gaps exist. Typically, registering domains where business is conducted and where trademarks are registered is a best practice.

In addition, it is necessary to understand why domain names were initially acquired, how they are currently used, any traffic generated by them, and whether they have any inherent value before beginning the process to allow a domain to expire. It is critical that companies look beyond domains that are resolving to websites to identify whether they are actively being used, as they may be hosting mail, nameservers or other DNS (Domain Name System) records.

Companies can also consider selling generic, unused domain names either by listing them on domain sales platforms or with the help of domain name brokers. Taking advantage of an Estibot valuation, for example, can provide an initial estimate of what a domain name might be worth on the secondary market.

Domain names that meet the following criteria are generally good candidates for expiration:

  • Have no business value
  • Not generating traffic
  • Have no DNS records
  • Are not previously the subject of legal action (e.g., C&D, UDRP, court order, etc.)
  • Are associated with a retired product or brand

Ultimately, the big question to ask is if this domain is re-registered, will it really matter?

While right-sizing portfolios can be fraught with too much risk for some, or the ROI just isn’t there, companies can still endeavor to make more strategic domain registration decisions going forward.

Companies should periodically evaluate where and how new brands are registered as domains, especially if policies were created more than ten years ago, when defensive registrations were more widely accepted as a way to protect brands online. Are domains being registered where brands are actively being marketed, or are they just being registered in the top 50 TLDs? Do defensive registrations contain likely typo squats or are dozens of variations registered?

Taking advantage of blocking options offered by Donuts, Uniregistry, and ICM can also provide another method for managing portfolio size as they offer cost-effective solutions for protecting brands against cybersquatting. This is especially true as new blocking offerings provide the option to also protect against confusingly similar variations including homograph domains which take advantage of non-Latin character sets.

Whether its paring back portfolios, making more strategic registration decisions going forward, or blocking domains as opposed to registering them, there are several ways in which companies can proactively manage the growth of their portfolios. Unfortunately, there is no one right way to manage domain portfolio growth, as every company’s tolerance for risk varies. As has been the case for years, domain professionals will need to balance their company’s appetite for risk versus their willingness to spend money to cover ever-expanding domain name portfolios.

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Tyler Mason

Tyler Mason is a Senior Domain Name Consultant with Brandsight. He has worked with some of the world's most valuable brands to implement domain management solutions designed to protect and promote their businesses online.

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