Dec. 2012 - Jan. 2013       The Domain Industry News Magazine

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A Tale of Two Markets: Median Domain Prices Rose in 2012 But Total $ Volume Slipped - On the Plus Side, the Year Finished Strong

The 2012 domain sales season is now in the books. We just finished crunching the numbers for the final quarter of the year and for 2012 as a whole to see how they stacked up against the corresponding periods a year ago. We found a definite divide in the marketplace with very few sales at the ultra high end in 2012 (only two reached seven figures) but vigorous activity in the rest of the market where we saw an increase in median sales prices

We will start with the full year results, then take a look at how things went  down the final stretch in the just completed 4th quarter of 2012. The total dollar volume of all domain sales reported to us in 2012 came to $90.4 million, a 4% decline from the $94.5 million in sales reported in 2011. Most of the year to year difference can be seen in just the top 

The domain market had its 
pluses and its minuses in 2012

Split decision image from Bigstock

20 sales of each year. In 2011, the 20 biggest sales totaled over $12.6 million. In 2012, the total for the top 20 alone slipped nearly $3 million to a little over $9.7 million

While people seemed to be reluctant to pull the trigger on high dollar sales in 2012, they were willing to ante up a bit more at other price levels. In 2012 we saw the median sales price (the price at which half of all sales were higher and half were lower) for all extensions rise 3% from $2,612 in 2011 to $2,688 in 2012. 

Keep in mind that we do not track sales below four figures (to be specific we track .com sales of $2,000 and up and all other extensions from $1,000 or more). As a result our median figures are higher than they would be if we tracked the entire universe of domain sales and conversely, total dollar volume reported to us is less than it would be if we tracked sales at the lowest end of the market.

.Com rainbow image from Bigstock

.Com fared better by all metrics than non .com TLDs did in 2012. While total $ volume dropped for all extensions added together, the .coms alone wound up at exactly the same figure they reached in 2011 with $67.2 million in .com sales reported to us each year. In contrast, total $ volume for reported ccTLD sales slipped over 13% from $17 million in 2011 to $14.7 million in 2012. Non .com gTLDs were off even more, sliding nearly 17% from $10.2 million to $8.5 million

The number of .com transactions reported also rose while the number of ccTLD and non .com gTLD sales reported both fell. 10,038 .com sales were reported to us in 2012, a 6% jump

over the 9,449 reported in 2011. The ccTLDs went the opposite direction with transactions reported falling over 11% from 4,228 in 2011 to 3,739 in 2012. It was the same story for the non .com gTLDs where transactions dropped over 9% from 3,054 to 2,770

When we looked at the median sales prices for each category from 2011 to 2012 those also varied. The .coms had a 3.3% increase in median price from $3,000 to $3,100 while the ccTLDs saw their median price slip 3.6% from $2,000 to $1,928. The non .com gTLDs managed to hold the fort on the median price front maintaining the same $1,800 price they registered in 2011 again in 2012.

Things can change quickly in this business with trends sometimes shifting dramatically over the course of just a few months. Now that was have compared all of 2012 against the preceding year, let's take a look at how things went in the most recent quarter - 4Q-2012. There were some encouraging numbers here, especially for the .coms. Across all extensions, the total $ volume of 4Q-2012 sales was $26.1 milliion, a 10% jump over the $23.7 million reported in the same quarter a year ago and an even more impressive 24% surge from the $21 million reported in the previous quarter (3Q-2012). If that trend can be sustained it will be a very good thing for domain sales in 2013. 
For the .coms only, the $20.5 million in total $ volume reported 4Q-2012 sales is a 17% rise from the same quarter a year ago ($17 million then) and a 27% bound above the $16.1 million reported in 3Q-2012. For the ccTLDs and the non .com gTLDs the quarterly results were more of a mixed bag. The country codes booked $3.6 million in reported 4Q-2012 sales, a 10% dip from the same quarter a year ago but a 20% jump from the $3 million reported in the previous quarter - another positive sign heading into the new year. Likewise the non .com gTLDs saw 4Q-2012 sales slide 9% from the same quarter a year ago, but they too saw a boost from the previous quarter, rising 5% from $1.9 million in 3Q-2012 to $2 million in 4Q-2012. 

In an interesting anomaly the median sales price across all extensions in 4Q-2012 

Ups and downs image from Bigstock

behaved in a completely different way. In this case, the 4Q-2012 median price of $2,750 was over 15% better than the $2,379 logged in the same quarter a year ago. However, even though total $ volume was way up from the previous quarter, the median sales price was down 11% from $3,103 in the previous quarter (3Q-2012).

When you break the 4Q results out by category you see the .coms enjoyed median price increases against both the previous quarter and the same quarter a year ago. The $3,200 .com median price in 4Q-2012 edged up a hair from $3,188 in 4Q-2011 and pushed nearly 7% higher that the 3Q-12 median of $3,000. The ccTLD's 4Q-2012 median price was $1,935, down 3% from $2,000 in the same quarter a year ago but up 6% from $1,830 in the previous quarter (3Q-2012). With a 4Q-2012 median price of $1,888 the non .com gTLDs held their ground from the previous quarter when the median wax exactly the same and the group beat the same quarter a year ago (when it was $1,788) by more than 5%

So, while 2012 overall was a mixed bag compared to 2011, the solid increase we saw in most metrics in the closing quarter of the year give us some reason for optimism as we now head deeper into the 2013 domain sales season.


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Ron Jackson

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