Coreile

Domain Strategy Bulletin
Published Every Saturday


July 21, 2018 (Sat)

The Chinese myth in numeric domains


Image courtesy of Pixabay.com


There is a myth held by many domain investors that Chinese love numeric domains. Such thinking was further enhanced during the 2015/2016 boom when lots of numeric domains – even long ones such as 6 or 7 digits --- were actively traded. That really surprised me. Do Chinese companies really have a special interest in numeric domains?

Yes, there are Chinese companies using numeric domains to run their businesses. If you look at the 100 two-digit .com domains, you'll be surprised to see that about 25 of them are active Chinese websites. However, when I studied them, I found no meaning in most of them. I can only conclude that they are popular because they are short enough to be remembered without much effort.

Some domains display patterns which are easy to remember. For example, 333.com (which forwards visitors to HaoQQ.com) is a website about Chinese tea. The domain contains "3" in a repeating pattern.

Another reason may be the general connotation attached to a number, such as 8 for "prosperity" and 9 for "longevity". An example can be seen in the acquisition of 360.com by top internet security firm Qihoo 360 in 2015 for a whopping $17 million. 360 has a connotation of "360 degrees" which suggests complete safety to Qihoo 360 customers.

One feature unique to Chinese domains is rhyming. Each number from 0 to 9 may sound like many Chinese characters. In Chinese pronouncement, for example, 1 sounds like 医 (medical), 易 (easy), 衣 (clothes) and many more. Therefore, you can combine digits to form a meaningful Chinese phrase. Look at the popular wholesale purchase site 1688.com owned by Alibaba. 1688 rhymes with 一路发发 (becoming rich all the way) and sounds to a certain extent like "alibaba" too. Through creative thinking, you can even turn some long numbers into meaningful Chinese phrases. How about 7708801314520? It rhymes with 亲亲你抱抱你一生一世我爱你 (kiss you, hug you, and love you for life).

Even though there are many ways to make a number easy to remember, I still think such domains are very limited in number. The more digits in a domain, the more difficult it becomes to remember the name. Also, the rhyming method has a serious problem – meanings of such domains will be lost once you expand beyond China. Therefore, be careful when considering to acquire a numeric domain for investment or website development.

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