What’s in a domain name? Not a lot if it says NFT, study suggests

Spending millions on the right to hold an enticing website name might seem like a good idea if you have serious cash to invest – but it won’t guarantee you get a sound return on your investment, according to research by Hostinger.

The web hosting provider looked at the seven most expensive domain names and found that while sex might sell in the world of online website traffic, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) apparently don’t, as yet.

NFTs.com ranked the worst for visits, garnering an undetectable amount of traffic since it was bought for $15 million last August, despite being the third most expensive domain name on Hostinger’s list.

“The site currently contains very little information, but says it is ‘powered by DigitalArtists.com Marketplace’,” said Hostinger, which used the SimilarWeb tool to estimate the number of monthly visits to sites.

“Despite the large price tag, there isn’t enough info to estimate its traffic, indicating that very few people are visiting the site,” it added.

Likewise, Voice.com, another digital art token-oriented website, bought in 2019 to act as a platform for “technologists, artists, and curators using the transformative power of NFTs to make digital art collectable,” is seeing a relatively low amount of traffic – less than 89,000 visitors monthly – despite topping the list for sale price, a whopping $30 million.

Sex still sells, get a room…

On the other hand, other sites performed predictably well. Sex.com, sold by Escom to Clover Holdings back in 2010 for a cool $10 million, appears to have proved itself a justifiable purchase, with a staggering 64 million visitors lining up for a touch of the hot stuff every month.

“The provocative name receives more traffic than the rest of the top five sites combined,” noted Hostinger, adding that the domain had recently gone up for resale at auction, with bids starting at $20 million.

The oldest domain name on the list was also a stalwart performer – sold way back in 2001 for $11 million, which would work out at around $18 million in today’s money, Hotels.com received the second highest monthly traffic, around 44.5 million hits.

One of Elon’s wiser purchases?

And Elon Musk will probably be feeling more certain that his 2014 purchase of Tesla.com for $11 million was a safer bet than his controversial Twitter purchase – today, the domain name enjoys a respectable 16.9 million monthly visits. Just as well for the billionaire, as it took him a decade to wrest the prized moniker from the hands of Silicon Valley engineer Stuart Grossman.

“It’s fascinating to see how much money has exchanged hands for specific domain names – the cost of the seven names in the list adds up to more than $100 million,” said a Hostinger spokesman.

“For multi-billion-dollar companies, the outlay is relatively small, especially if it secures your presence on the web, strengthens your brand, and provides a good stream of traffic to your site. However as this study shows, spending millions of dollars on the domain name doesn’t guarantee millions of website visitors.”