Where the Web Site Builders Are

A few weeks ago, we took a stab at sizing the overall number of active web sites. Using Netcraft as a primary source, we arrived at a count of roughly 7.5 million active web sites all in the potential affiliate pool.

While that makes for a huge market, many merchants may be trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Considering that even market leader Amazon.com has only 500,000 affiliates (not even 10 percent market share), perhaps the promise of money is not the best way to every affiliate’s heart.

To get to the bottom of it all, today we turn our attention to who these 7.5 million web site builders are, what they’re building sites about, and how your program can benefit.

The Consumers Are Coming?

In 1999, research from dotcom.com, Network Solutions’ so-called “Knowledge Center for the New Economy,” indicated that 80 percent of consumers registering a domain name did so for the first time. dotcom.com further indicates that by the end of Q3 2000, 15.4 percent of American households are expected to own a domain name incredible!

Young, Male, but Going Female

To continue our understanding of consumer domain holders, consider some of the standard demographics. An amazing 77 percent of consumers buying domains are male, 17 percent are female, and 6 percent didn’t respond. This represents quite a skew from the web’s current 51/49 male/female split.

Cyber Dialogue predicts that over the next 12 months, domain holders will be split 50/50 between males and females merchants like ClubMom.com and lucy.com are likely to benefit.

On the age front, consumer domain holders are generally a youthful crowd. Overall, 54.2 percent of registrants are between the ages of 25 and 44. Another 39 percent of men and 38 percent of women are between the ages of 45 and 64.

Urbanites Lead the Way

And in case you were wondering, urbanites are 4.5 to 8 times more likely to register a web address than the national average. The top 10 cities for consumer domain registrations include (in order):

  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Houston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Austin
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • San Jose

On a state-by-state basis, the top 10 states for consumer domain registrations are:

  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania
  • Georgia

Matters of the Heart

The same research indicates these consumers are building sites devoted to family and pets; clubs and organizations; photography, and stamp and coin collecting; sports and trading cards; and, finally, computers and technology.

Here at EchoFactor, we call them Topic Enthusiasts. These are people with a passion who want to share their domain expertise with other like-minded netizens. Sure, some of them are out to make a buck, but, more than anything, the vast majority of consumer domain holders are building web sites for the love of the game.

More Than Money

The implication for affiliate marketers is simple: Reaching many of these new consumer domain holders will take more than the promise of commissions. A better idea? Offer the tools and resources affiliates need to support their passion. Give them regionally and topically focused content embedded with your commerce.

Granularity Matters Most

One of the most obvious ah-ha’s: Focus on granular products and information. Here at EchoFactor, we’re finding firsthand the power of regional content, in particular. For the Beta Version of our free content headline service, we included local news headlines on approximately 500 U.S. cities almost as an afterthought. Already in a few short weeks, the response has been incredible.

In fact, the demand from affiliates has us planning to launch more localities and more granular categories. Our goal is to support builders of everything from sites about local dining and culture to sites dealing with local health and politics. The implication for merchants is finding ways to help affiliates serve up locally flavored products everything from local food favorites and travel books to spotlights on local celebs.

Overall, consumers represent a growing portion of registered domain names. Increasingly, domain name holders are building sites about topics that matter to them. While many web addresses belong to men, women are expected to pick up the slack. Cities and urban areas represent the bulk of consumer domain registrations and local topics seem to be increasingly popular themes around which consumers are building sites.

Merchants can capitalize on all these trends by emphasizing more than just the income potential of affiliate programs. Instead, focus on giving affiliates the tools and resources they need to support their passions.

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