ICANN Finds Almost Half Global Consumers Aware of New gTLDs

ICANN new generic Top Level Domains logoAlmost half (46%) of the world’s consumers are aware of at least one of the new gTLDs according to a survey conducted on behalf of ICANN of 6,144 consumers aged over 18 representing Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America, and administered in 18 languages and drawn from 24 countries.

Of those 46 percent, 65 percent said they have also visited a new gTLD. And even though they’re only the eighth and seventeenth most popular new gTLDS when it comes to total registrations, .email and .link led in awareness and visitation of new gTLDs.

The survey findings came from phase one of ICANN’s Global Consumer Research Study conducted by Nielsen to measure aspects of consumer awareness, perceived consumer choice, experience and trust related to the current gTLD landscape and the domain name system. The research, conducted between 2 and 19 February, 2015, was designed to create a meaningful baseline of data on consumer attitudes and will be followed by a second survey approximately one year later. This will also be a key input to a team set to be reviewing competition, consumer trust and consumer choice in the domain name system later this year.

“This is the first time we’ve surveyed consumers directly about domain names and Internet use, and it provides an important benchmark as the new domains roll out,” Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division. “As the community looks toward future rounds, the survey findings will help inform the best approach.”

The survey also examined consumer attitudes toward a subset of legacy TLDs introduced before 2012 – .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ, .MOBI, .PRO, .TEL, .ASIA and .COOP. Among these legacy gTLDs, three extensions (.COM, .NET and .ORG) lead awareness, with nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) respondents reporting knowledge of these domains, on average. These TLDs also had relatively high visitation, with an average of 71 percent of respondents reporting they have visited one of those domains.

Notably, Nielsen found that 72 percent of respondents reported high levels of trust with entities that offer domain names. These high trust levels were linked to a perception that the industry will take precautions, give consumers what they think they’re getting, and screen companies or individuals who register for certain domain names.

Of those surveyed, an average of 90 percent claimed to trust the top three legacy TLDs (.COM, .NET, and .ORG), with the highest numbers found in North America, South America and Africa. Consistent with other study findings, the results show trust among new gTLDs is lower than legacy TLDs, but growing: nearly one person in two (49 percent) on average reports that they trusted the sample of new gTLDs provided in the survey.

Abusive Internet behaviour, including spam, malware, phishing, and cybersquatting remain an issue for Internet users. At least three quarters of the respondents (74 percent) are familiar with malware, phishing or stolen credentials. Cybersquatting is the only bad behaviour that the majority are unfamiliar with — just over 1 in 3 (37 percent) reporting awareness.

Regardless of their experience, most Internet users take some personal actions to improve their online security — most commonly installing anti-virus software and modifying their online behaviour. There is a continuing need for education as consumers seek out resources to increase their sense of safety and to help resolve issues encountered online.

Additional study highlights include:

  • when asked to describe new gTLDs, the most common words included: useful, informative, helpful, practical, interesting and innovative
  • while people are increasingly using different devices to surf the web, 64 percent of respondents report using a search engine as their preferred way to find a website. This is only slightly lower than Internet users report they did two to three years ago
  • registering a domain is not hard, but could be easier – fifty-three percent report that registering a domain is either “very easy” or “somewhat easy” and roughly half want the process of registering a website to be less complicated (50 percent), cheaper (55 percent) and quicker (49 percent).

ICANN is also working with Nielsen to conduct a global survey of domain name registrants and their perceived sense of trust and choice in the domain name space. Results from that study will be available later in 2015.