It is of common knowledge in the domain investment community that .us domain names are not the default choice for United States companies seeking to have an online presence. It is also of common knowledge, that as a result of american’s preference for .com as their national domain extension, .us domain names are assigned a value far below their ccTLD counterparts, such as Germany’s .de (Aktien.de $725,000), UK’s .co.uk (Beds.co.uk $130,000) or Australia’s .com.au (Deals.com.au $100,000).
This week, the DNJournal will most likely announce the purchase of a .us for mid four figures. The amount of the sale is almost insignificant, but I was the buyer, and in this post I will explain my reasons for believing that the .us is highly undervalued and carries a potential for companies seeking to develop an online presence with a prime generic name.
There are two main factors for which I think the .us ccTLD has lagged in value. First, as I said above, americans prefer .com – they associate it with their national extension. Even if a .com weren’t available, it is fair to assume that there will be a preference to choose another gTLD such as .net or .org, over the official ccTLD for the US, .us. This assumption can be easily corroborated by the number of sales and dollar amount per sale for gTLDs vis a vis .us.
The second factor is the restriction for .us ownership. Only American citizens or permanent residents are allowed to own a .us, and this is exactly the population that rejects .us domain names. If a european citizen saw value in a .us, there couldn’t be a way for that person to acquire such a domain name without much hassle and risk. Thus, the small population that can purchase the extension is its worst customer.
But then, why do I think a .us carries much more value than the market is currently assigning it?
The answer lies in the fact that there is a global perception on ccTLDs, which extends the relationship of any ccTLD to one not circumscribed to the specific ccTLD population, but rather as a geographic presence towards the global community. In other words, when a portal from Russia opens with their ccTLD .ru, like Mail.ru, they are not just communicating to the Russian community about their presence. Rather, Mail.ru becomes a portal for all global citizens searching for contact with Russia. All of the world -not just russians, will recognize and seek mail.ru when wanting to communicate with the russian community.
Outside of the US, it is evident from all the local media that ccTLDs are the default choice for companies to communicate with users. Thus, all internet users outside of the US have a psychological tendency, reinforced by local media, to see the web through ccTLDs. It is only americans who predominantly only experience the web through gTLDs, primarily .com. And so, therein lies the opportunity.
First, it can be speculated either way on the adoption of the American community on a .us. One can argue that american users will be confused and tempted to type in the keyword and then .com. Others can argue that branding will be harder and carry less prestige than the .com. I, on the other hand, have confidence in the ease of branding that carries a prime keyword .us. It further resonates on the prevalent patriotism that distinguishes americans.
However, there is another way of looking at the opportunity, and that is as a portal for the rest of the global community. It is much easier for a foreign citizen to understand and to recognize a portal using the .us extension as an american portal. Therefore, foreigners will want to participate in a .us portal with the understanding that they are participating in an american environment. The .us is easily perceived as American soil by the rest of the world. And that is where the value of a .us rises. If we consider the .us extension as a window to the US for the rest of the world, where our customers are not just Americans, but the global population seeking contact with Americans, we find that a .us can hold a huge market outside of its borders.