You may already know that .nz is one of the most popular choices for New Zealanders to get themselves online, but the way we act online is changing everyday. There are probably plenty of facts that may surprise you, and we decided to do a little digging.

We took two snapshots of the .nz registration database a year apart, one from November 2018 and the other from November 2019, and explored from various angles. Here are some interesting facts about the .nz domain namespace that may surprise you.

Words in .nz namespace

The chart below shows the words most frequently used in the .nz namespace.

Our analysis focused on the domain name label without the suffix of ‘.nz’ and the second level domains, meaning for domains like trademe.co.nz we just use the trademe component. Using word segmentation of NLP (Natural Language Processing), we can extract meaningful words in a name label. We leveraged WordSegment to split each label into words and aggregated the count of domains containing each word. Stop words, such as of and the, were removed from the analysis.

Analysing 2018’s snapshot, we got the same words on the top, but with different frequencies. The following chart shows how the frequency has changed for each word.

From the chart, we can see many words have dropped in frequency. As we've known that the .nz namespace has been going through a shrinking trend, these drops were probably caused by the churn of many domain names containing these words. Although with lots of dropped words, there were still some words increased in the .nz namespace, among which, 'co', 'solutions' and 'group' all indicated an increase of the number of domain names related to a business or an organisation, and the word 'tech', short for 'technology', also had increased its occurrence in the .nz namespace.

Second level size

A .nz domain is registered either directly under '.nz' or under any second level domain such as 'co.nz', 'net.nz', and etc. It’s interesting to explore the number of domain names under each second level and see any changes over the two time periods. We displayed the five biggest second-level domains in the following chart.

From the chart, we can see 'co.nz' and '.nz' remained the two biggest second levels. It's hard to compare the two time points in this chart because of the different scales of the second levels. To make it obvious, we visualized the change of percentage for each of the major second levels as below.

We can see '.nz' domain increased by 0.35% of the register, while other second-level domains decreased to varying degrees.

IDN

The registration of Internationalized domain name (IDN) with macronised vowels which feature in Te Reo Māori has been permitted in the .nz name space since July 2010. In the snapshot from Nov 2018, there were 150 IDNs in the .nz register, while in Nov 2019, it increased to 159, but still a tiny piece of the whole register. There's plenty of room for IDN to grow.

Name length

Excluding the suffix of ‘.nz’ and second level domains, a .nz domain name is limited to have 63 characters or less. The following chart showed the distribution of the name length in the .nz namespace.

The distribution basically remained the same from year to year, with 70% of domain names having 6-15 characters. While a shorter domain name is more popular than a longer one in general, due to its benefit in user experience, there are more chances to get a longer domain.

Taking a closer look at the distribution change between years, we can clearly view a slight increase in the percentage of domain names with 3-5 characters in the register, while a slight drop in the percentage of longer domain names, as shown above.

Initial character

This fun idea came from one of our colleagues, to find out the distribution of .nz domains that start with different characters.

From the chart above, the distribution stayed similar from Nov 2018 to Nov 2019. The majority of .nz domains start with a letter, while only less than 1% start with a digit. ‘s’ is the most popular initial letter, and nearly 50% of .nz domains start with one of the seven letters highlighted: ‘s’, ‘t’, ‘c’, ‘a’, ‘m’, ‘b’, and ‘p’.

Which day are .nz registered

This led to another idea; exploring the time when the domain was registered. We grouped .nz domain names registered by day of the week and day of the month to see what patterns emerged. As we had registrations from all around the world affected by various time zones, and over 80% of registrations were from local New Zealand, we focused our analysis on the local registrations in local time for this section.

We can see above the majority of the registrations were done on a business day, especially from Tuesday to Friday, while a fair percent of them were done on Saturday, and less were done on Sunday and Monday.

Visualising the changes from 2018 to 2019, we can see the percentage of registrations done during the weekend increased compared to those done on working days all dropped. Further analysis showed that churn outnumbered new creations on weekdays.

The day of month on which .nz domain were registered followed a similar pattern from 2018 to 2019. A peak was spotted on the first day of the month, which might relate to domains on a monthly renewal cycle, or is linked to a significant event date which was the 1st of a month, e.g., shorter .nz launch on 30th May 2015 with a big surge on the 1st June.

Registrant type

Our technical research team built a model to predict whether a registrant is an organisation or a person given the registrant name, detailed in this article. Using the predictions, we did some interesting analysis to the datasets from 2018 to 2019. We labeled all the registrations with registrant name recorded, while 0.01% missing registrant name were left out in the analysis.

From the chart above, organisations continued to be the dominant registrant type from 2018 to 2019, and the percent has increased slightly from 2018.

Looking at the two major second levels in 2019, both 'co.nz' and '.nz' had a majority of domain names registered by an organisation rather than a person. '.nz' domains had a slightly larger percent registered by organisation compared to 'co.nz'. The analysis to 2018 showed a similar trend.

Exploring the change of distribution for 'co.nz' and '.nz' from 2018 to 2019, the percentage of domain names registered by an organisation increased slightly for both second levels, while the percentage of domain names registered by a person all decreased slightly. Compared with 'co.nz', '.nz' had a more significant change in the distribution of registrant type. These results may show an increasing acceptance of shorter .nz domain names for business use as an alternative to .co.nz. We will explore this in future research.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we revealed a series of fun facts of .nz by analysing the registration data from two snapshots separated by a year. Leveraging NLP and fancy visualisations, we are able to extract some insightful facts from the data we have to guide us in understanding the status and trends of .nz . Further analysis can be done to discover more facts and find more information, and we’ll update you as the patterns emerge.