Accelerated digital transformation efforts lead to record .ie uptake, says report
A total of 65,113 new .ie domains were registered in 2020, the highest ever figure and an almost 30% increase on 2019, according to the latest edition of the .IE Domain Profile Report, which explores and analyses the .ie database.
Peaks and troughs in new .ie registrations generally followed restrictions on travel and business. The highest peak occurred in May, when 7,003 new .ie domains were registered, the highest number ever for a single month approximately six weeks after the closure of non-essential retail. This peak began to drop off from June, as restrictions eased, but moved up sharply in October, peaking again in November corresponding to the announcement of the second national lockdown.
David Curtin, chief executive of .IE, Ireland’s national registry for .ie domains, said a “mass mobilisation of digital in every part of the economy and society” in response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Businesses migrated online, many for the first time, in direct response to the lockdowns,” he said. “They realised that having an online presence, and in many cases e-commerce capabilities, would at the very least minimise the damage of reduced or non-existent footfall.
“Some businesses have fully embraced digital, using multiple platforms to communicate with and sell to their customers. For example, some restaurants are using their own websites to advertise special offers but redirect customers to third-party apps and platforms for food ordering. Delivery is then outsourced. Many who have pivoted their business model in this way have reaped the rewards and stayed afloat, even thrived, in an intensely challenging period.”
Curtin said that the Central Bank recognises new .ie registrations as a forward indicator of economic health. On this metric it was clear: Irish businesses and services have proved to be resilient and adaptable in 2020.
“While new company start-ups fell in 2020 overall because of the pandemic, the .IE Domain Profile Report indicates that entrepreneurs and new businesses are taking a ‘digital-first’ approach and ensuring that they secure their preferred online identity with a .ie domain name, before they register their company as a legal entity.
For the first time ever, every county in Ireland recorded an increase in .ie domain registrations. Counties Clare, Monaghan, Limerick, and Tipperary recorded increases in .ie domain registrations in every month of 2020, compared to 2019.
As of end 2020, the total number of .ie domains in the database was 309,853. The .ie domain now accounts for 51% of all domains hosted in Ireland, followed by .com (32%) and .uk (8%).*
The pandemic’s impact on .ie Web addresses
The pandemic affected the online identities chosen in 2020, which is evident in the words used in new .ie domain web addresses. ‘Health’ and ‘Covid’ were the second and fourth most common keywords respectively.
Some 315 .ie domains containing the word ‘mask’ or ‘facemask’ were registered in 2020 compared to just six in 2019 and 61 containing the word ‘remote’ were registered in 2020 compared to five in 2019.
General health-related keywords, including ‘wellness’, ‘supplement’, ‘pharmacy’, and ‘fitness’, increased 92% year-on-year.
A total of 178 .ie Web addresses containing the words ”mental health’ or ‘counselling’ were registered in 2020, up from 87 in 2019 (an increase of 105%). Eighty-nine .ie domains containing the words ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse’ were registered versus 62 in 2019 (up 44%).
“Many health services are now delivering their services online, for example through virtual consultations with patients and e-prescriptions sent securely to their local pharmacy,” said Curtin. “Digital has given them the tools they need to adapt to a socially distanced Covid-19 economy and provide continuity of care to local patients, in the comfort and safety of their own familiar environment.”