The company excludes five top free ccTLDs from its calculations.
Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) released its Q4 2021 Domain Industry Brief today, and at first glance, it looks like domain registrations have fallen significantly. But that’s because Verisign removed .tk and other Freenom domains from its counts.
As the name suggests, Freenom offers domain names for free. This has made the small island nation of Tokelau a domain behemoth, as people have registered tens of millions of free .tk domains. Other Freenom domains include .cf, .ga, .gq, and .ml.
Freenom domains have always skewed domain name data, and Verisign had some difficulty getting reliable numbers for these domains for the fourth quarter. In his memoir he notes:
Since its first publication in February 2004, the Domain Name Industry Brief has become widely regarded as a credible and accurate source of domain name industry statistics. The continued accuracy of this summary and the reliability of the statistical information it contains is of paramount importance to Verisign and our readers.
We have therefore made the decision to exclude the country code top-level domains .tk, .cf, .ga, .gq and .ml from the applicable dataset and trend calculations, due to a unexplained change in available estimates for . size of the tk zone and lack of verification by the registry operator for these TLDs. Current and applicable historical data presented in this edition of the DNIB have been adjusted accordingly, and applicable quarterly and annual trends have been calculated using these adjusted figures. This allows us to continue to provide accurate data on global trends.
The deletion of the domains caused Verisign’s total domain count to be calculated at 341.7 million at the end of last year, up from 364.6 million at the end of Q3 2021. But Verisign retroactively deleted Freenom domains. to create comparisons. This resulted in a 1% increase in the total number of domains across all TLDs from the third to fourth quarters of last year.
Frankly, I think this change will give a more accurate picture of the domain name market.