“Google Domains” is now open for business. The search giant’s decision to wade into the world of domains registration is a logical extension of its growing suite of business apps and services, many of which are focused on SMBs. Another fresh example of this is Google’s ongoing effort to buy the payments provider Softcard.
Some of our quick thoughts on Google Domains:
A huge question looming over this initiative is how the domain products may be linked to Google’s ad products (e.g., AdWords and AdWords Express). Such a linkage would probably generate Google’s strongest competitive advantage in domain registrations, particularly near-term.
What will be the impact of Google Domains on Google’s numerous channel partners? As reported in Google’s Q3 2014 financial highlights, the revenue increase from Google’s network partners considerably lagged the revenue increase from Google-owned sites for Q3 2014 as compared to Q3 2013 (a 9 percent growth rate for revenues from network partners vs. 20 percent from Google-owned sites). Could the move into domain registrations serve to further shift ad revenues from the “channel” column to the “owned” column for Google? (Also note the channel dynamic is on top of a system-wide deflation in the average cost-per-click).
Besides the usual roster of gTLD’s ( generic Top Level Domains) Google Domains (officially still in “open beta” although testing started last June) is offering about 80 of the new crop of gTLDs that feature extensions like .bike, .coffee, .florist, .pub, .shoes, .tools, .vacations. You know, the stuff of everyday life.
In spite of Google’s enormous size and resources, we don’t think their move into domain registrations is a “slam dunk” for the giant. The established players like GoDaddy and Endurance International Group, particularly in the United States, have become well-developed marketing and customer-service machines, offering an ever-increasing array of services to their own SMB clients.
This may be a fierce battle.