The Wall Street Journal has very interesting article on the value of numeric domain names titled What’s In a Name? More and More, a Number Despite Limited Success of Digits, a Numeric Trend Blossoms in Internet Domain Monikers; 10012.com, Anyone? The article plays off a previous Wall Street Journal article from “the numbers guy” Carl Bialik titled When Numbers Becomes Names. The article suggests that web users should get used to visiting websites whose names are numeric, noting that a group in Australia plans to develop 100.com into a search engine that will deliver the 100 most relevant results, as well as a number of other examples.
The interest in building an online brand around numbers stems from the increasing scarcity of word-based domains. Dot-com remains king in U.S. business, even as newer extensions such as .jobs, .museum and .travel have become available. And there can be only one, say, sex.com.
Among numeric names' advantages: There's no need for translation between countries, and some numbers, such as 360, have global meaning, and are reasonably priced, compared with equally short domains using letters.
The article indicates that of the 100 top domains sales this year, over 10% are numeric domains according to Domain Name Journal.
The article correctly notes that numeric domains only work when they are transformed into a brand such as Fifth Third Bank’s 53.com and the James Bond brand 007.com. This reinforces the point that any gibberish can be transformed into a brand name with enough marketing muscle. It also highlights the fundamental dichotomy between generic domain names which essentially describe the product or service sold, with the more trademark-worthy domain names which are created into brands.
We advise our clients to cover both sides of the fence. Clearly, a strong trademark is the best way to protect your brand. You will never find a strong trademark within the generic descriptive portfolio of domain names. Matching a strong brand with a descriptive/generic domain name has the potential to drive a tremendous amount of direct navigation traffic to your site, intends to be easier to remember. There is no reason why companies can’t have both a strong trademark protected brand as well as descriptive domain name traffic.