New Analysis Reveals Top 25 Companies Who Own the Most Domain Names

Large corporate companies have been investing in domains for almost two decades, with benefits ranging from trust and authority, saving future costs on branding and marketing and search engine optimisation gains. This means that combined with the domains of the brands MNEs have already acquired, companies can own hundreds of different domains, equating to thousands of traffic.

WebsiteToolTester has analysed OECD data to reveal the estimated combined traffic and owned domains of some of the biggest companies in the world, to see which companies are getting the most visitors per month - a large number of corporate businesses own domains you might not expect.

Domains are a huge part of the branding of a company, and are often customers’ first point of call for a lot of businesses. So, which companies own the most domain names - and which companies receive the most online traffic from their domains?

The research reveals that Alphabet Inc. receives the most traffic, receiving almost 120 billion visits (119,879,300,000), per month.

Alphabet Inc. was developed during a corporate restructuring of Google in 2015, and owns several subsidiaries, including DeepMind, Makani, Wing and Jigsaw. Alphabet is now the world’s fifth-largest technology company by revenue, and the research reveals that Alphabet Inc owns 422 domains in total. The biggest of which is Google (google.com) and receives over 77 billion visits - equating to 29,726 visits every second and making up over half of Alphabet’s overall monthly traffic.

Youtube.com is Alphabet Inc.’s second-biggest domain which receives almost 28 (27.8) billion visits per month. The domain name youtube.com was activated on February 14th 2005, and the website was further expanded over the coming months. By December 2005, the site was receiving 8 million views a day, and following a $3.5 million investment the site launched officially.

Some of the Alphabet’s famous acquisitions can also be seen in their bank of domains, with the likes of GPS navigation software Waze, computer programs company DeepMind and workplace pension scheme Nest - which was purchased for over $3 billion in 2014.

The second biggest company in terms of total traffic is Microsoft Corp, with their domain names reaching a total of 7.2 billion visits. Microsoft Corp owns 139 domain names, a large proportion of which are defensive registrations for their products including msn.com, bing.com, and linkedin.com, the latter of which it famously purchased for over $26 billion in 2016.

However, it is live.com - the personal email website which receives over 2.2 billion visits a month that generates the most traffic for Microsoft. Prior to acquiring the domain, Microsoft hosted the website for Live Networks Inc [1], which subsequently moved to Live 555.com. From 2005, the domain was the home to the brands replacing Microsoft’s Hotmail - what we know today as Windows Live and Windows Live Mail.

Multinational technology company Amazon.com Inc receives over 6 billion total visits across their 258 domain names. The research reveals that the domain name leading the way for Amazon Inc is amazon.com, launched in 1995, which on average last year had around 2 billion combined desktop and mobile visits a month. In 2018, research [2] found that Amazon’s website took up over 30.7% of online shopping websites traffic.

Amazon has been in an eight year battle to secure its own ‘.amazon’ top level domain, after the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a nonprofit organisation that helps manage IP addresses and the internet’s domain name system delayed granting the request. This is as a result of South American countries, including Peru and Brazil, stating that approving ‘.amazon’ would be the equivalent to an “expropriation from the Amazon countries and ACTO of their right to use and be recognized by the name ‘Amazon’” [3].

It’s unclear what impact using these top level domain names eg. ‘Fashion.amazon.com’ would have on Amazon’s existing domain traffic numbers but with monthly traffic numbers remaining in the billions, it’s safe to say the retail giants are likely to remain leaders in their field.

Walt Disney is another well-known company that receives a significant amount of traffic, around 782,700,000 a month. The American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate owns 396 domain names, but competes with the likes of Samsung Electronics who receives 779,500,000 total visits a month from it's 257 domain names; and Apple - which whilst only owning 52 domain names, receives over 515,000,000 visits a month in traffic.

Apple only last month acquired the long-desired domain name ‘SteveJobs.com’, after a dispute when the company filed a cybersquatting complaint arguing that the South Korean registrant of ‘SteveJobs.com’ was cybersquatting by owning the domain name [4]. In December 2019, it was ordered that this domain name be transferred to the Steve Jobs Archive (owned by Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs).

British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company, Unilever NV comes top for the most domains, owning 1,181 domain names including the likes of Ben & Jerrys, Dove and Hellman’s. Their group of owned domain names is over eight times more than Microsoft and over double that of Alphabet. Founded in 1929, the company owns over 400 brands and has made numerous corporate acquisitions including Lipton (1971), Ben & Jerry’s (2000) and Pukka Herbs (2017).

Unilever’s two biggest sites are ‘cleanipedia.com’ and ‘dollarshaveclub.com’, despite owning domain names for some of the world’s most well-known brands. When it comes to traffic, the two sites combined see around 5 million visits a month.

One of Unilever’s biggest sites, founded in 2011, Dollar Shave Club is an American company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products to customers by mail. Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club in 2016 for a reported $1 billion in cash. With more than 2 million visitors every month, Unilever’s Cleanipedia domain is a handy platform for cleaning tips.

The research reveals that Nestle SA ranks in at second place for the largest amount of domain names, owning 907 - double that of Sony Corp, and over three times that of Pepsico Inc. Following closely behind are Johnson & Johnson who own 895 domain names, Procter & Gamble Co who own 857 and Volkswagen AG who own 651.

Study reveals consumer goods giant Unilever to own the web, possessing 1,181 domain names in total


Read next: This DataViz Shows Who Owns the Most Visited News Sites in the World

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