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Novelty: 3/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains

Novelty: 3/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains

Because standing out gets you attention 🍊

Photo by Cody Davis on Unsplash

As part of the Emoji Domain Primer at 🔧.ws/primer I write a short paragraph or two on the 9 benefits that I believe give emoji domains value.

In this series I want to expand on and explore each one, opening up the potential value emoji domains might hold as marketing tools for modern businesses.

Part one discussed why being short is such a valuable benefit.

Part two looked at why emoji domains are so memorable and how this helps a business.

In this third part I’ll be discussing the novelty of emoji domains and why that matters.


Novelty can be defined as the quality of being new. It is derived from the Latin word for new, novus. As an extension, something that is novel can also be described as original, unusual or striking.

Emoji have been through the novel phase and are quite a common part of our social experience. They have expanded beyond the forums, messaging platforms, social media and smartphones in which we first became enamoured with them to live richer lives as keyrings, plushies, and jewellery.

They are adornments for, well, almost everything.

emoGTI 🚗

Emoji domains are yet to make that leap, remaining obscure and known to a relative few. This is likely due to the awkward way in which emoji domains are coded. They are considered Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) just as you would consider الة تصوير.ws, 相機.ws and Камера.ws internationalised domain names and are therefore encoded the same way to allow browsers and platforms to read the code and display the image.

If you had known that 🍓 was coded using ‘punycode’ as xn — ti8h you would have been able to go to your favourite registrar and register the strawberry emoji as a domain.

Bad UI is often the flaw that holds back a new technology. In the case of emoji domains this was drastically improved when Jon Roig and the team at Domain Research Group created I❤.ws which allowed you to type the emoji directly in from an emoji keyboard and then register your new emoji domain at GoDaddy.

The simple, beautiful UI that Jon Roig created has allowed for over 21,000 emoji domain registrations through I❤ alone.

I expect this to be the turning point at which emoji domains begin taking the same leap emoji did. In 3–5 years they will be everywhere and their novelty will have worn off so it seems reasonable to suggest that a company using an emoji domain within the next 1–2 years will stand out.

The Gartner Hype Cycle which shows the consistent stages at which new technology passes through shows that when novel, a technology’s potential can become over-inflated.

The Gartner Hype Cycle as of July 2017

Emoji domains aren’t ground-breaking technology like blockchain or quantum computing but the acceptance of them will follow a similar path. When people go from seeing them as the “next big thing in domains” to “a useful marketing tool displaying characteristics no other domain can claim” we’ll start climbing the slope of enlightenment.

Novelty vs Gimmickry

Sceptics might say that emoji domains are a gimmick. I would argue that there is a very fine line between novelty and gimmickry.

Value is where the two differ.

A novelty is new and can be valuable.

A gimmick can be new but isn’t valuable.

So, an emoji domain is going to seem like a gimmick to many people at first.

They are going to stand out. But when that novelty wears off, are the owners of the emoji domain going to be left with anything? Yes, they’ll be left with a domain that is short, memorable, colourful, on more smartphone keyboards than any single language, native to messaging platforms and loved by 92% of online consumers.

But, if there’s going to be a short period of novelty, shouldn’t the smartest of digital marketers make the most of it? It’s likely that a campaign using an emoji domain run by a better known company will get media attention purely because they use emoji domains, regardless of the campaign itself.

What is the value of being novel?

The rewards of being novel can be witnessed in commercial history by looking at those companies that were first to market in their respective niche.

In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing the authors propose that,

“It’s better to be first than it is to be better”

The idea is that the first in a new market retains the biggest market share. Examples from the book extend to Coka-Cola, Heineken, Advil and Gillette.

Being one of the first to use emoji domains in a meaningful way might give you a longer term benefit from something that at first glance most people label a gimmick.

Gary Vaynerchuk has a history of taking a first mover advantage. He has learnt, and now extols, the disproportionate upside of having the humility to try something new, no matter how long it takes or how likely it is to succeed.

In 1996, he expanded his family’s wine selling business with email marketing, achieving an 80% open rate on a 400,000 person email list. That list today gets a 20% open rate, just like most people. He was early to Google adwords being the first person to purchase ads against the word ‘wine’ at $0.05 a click for a long time. The value of being first to Gary’s family wine business was the ability to grow from $3,000,000 to $60,000,000 in a few years.

Later Gary became very vocal about targeted Facebook advertising and being first to Snapchat. Here’s what he has to say about the potential of emoji domains:

To Gary’s point about not being hot on domains he’s 💯 % correct if you rely completely on the domain. But a smart marketing team, promoting a valuable product could put an emoji domain to very good use.

Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow would add weight to this argument by saying that modern marketers must not only market in a remarkable way, but have a remarkable product to market. An emoji domain isn’t going to make your business successful. But, if you have a remarkable product, considering what’s gone before, is an emoji domain a remarkable way to market?

I think there is a window of opportunity. Right now I would describe it as a window of greater opportunity because as companies catch on, the power of using an emoji domain in a campaign will decline just like everything else.

The novelty will wear off.

But, you’ll still be left with a language transcendent, colourful, short, platform native, memorable and graphical URL with which to catch the visual and emotional attention of your audience.

Thanks for reading!

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By | 2018-04-04T17:19:38+00:00 April 4th, 2018|reasons to use emoji domains|0 Comments

Memorability: 2/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains

Memorability: 2/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains

When you can remember something, you can pass it on 🗣

Photo by on Unsplash

As part of the Emoji Domain Primer I write a short paragraph or two on the 9 benefits that I believe give emoji domains value.

In this series I want to expand on and explore each one, opening up the potential value emoji domains might hold as marketing tools for modern businesses.

Part one discussed why being short is such a valuable benefit. In this second part I’ll be discussing the memorability of emoji domains.

No1 London

This is the London townhouse for the Dukes of Wellington. The official address of this house is 149 Picadilly, London, W1J 7NT but it is affectionately referred to as №1 London since it was the first house passed by visitors who travelled from the country after the toll gates at Knightsbridge.

At 9 years old, when my grandfather told me he would love to live at №1 London I understood why. It’s a cool address. It would be fun to tell people that’s where you live.

I’ve never forgotten about №1 London because it is so simple, short and sweet. It’s impossible to forget.

Having people remember your home address is one thing- you’ll always get your post. But, having someone remember your business address and more pertinently, your online business address has more upside.

The obvious reason to have a memorable domain name is so a potential customer can recall it, say from an advert, and then pass it on to their network who then may become customers. The benefit of memorability is even more appealing when you take into account the power of word-of-mouth marketing. You’re more likely to try a product that a friend suggests than when an advert does. A Nielsen study reports that 92% of consumers,

“trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”

So, you really want your customers to remember your online business address.

Some of what makes something memorable is how much there is of it. Humans can reliably remember sequences of numbers up to 7. You can test yourself at Human Benchmark to see how well you fare.

But what about words and pictures? Which domain name is easier to remember?

  3. 📊.ws

To get some idea, we need to have a basic understanding of how we remember things.

A memory starts with perception. When we remember another person we store various elements about them in different parts of our brain. The hippocampus is responsible for compiling things like the person’s smell, their touch and the sound of their voice for example. Along with the frontal cortex, the hippocampus is also responsible for accessing the worthiness of the memory and then sending the sensory information to different parts of the brain for storage and retrieval.

The memory begins with perception but the process of storage is chemical and electrical. This encoding of information to the brain may only begin when the person is paying attention. There is something to be said of emoji domains that certainly in the short term will cause people to pay attention. I’ll discuss the novelty factor and its window of opportunity in another post but for now it is interesting to note that for something to become memorable, it must catch your attention 👋. Coincidentally, popular marketing automation platform Mailchimp owns 👋.ws

There are three memory stages.

  1. Sensory memory- A fleeting momentary perception lasting a fraction of a second. Sensory memory allows a visual pattern, a sound or a touch to linger briefly.
  2. Short-term memory- It can hold about 7 items for no more than 20 to 30 seconds although there are several methods of increasing the time a memory can be stored here.
  3. Long-term memory- Gradually, information is processed to the long-term memory if it is repeated and used, for example, the finger movements of a practiced guitar solo. People can retain unlimited amounts of information in long-term memory for an indefinite amount of time. However, non-usage may render the memory rusty.

Most people associate the word ‘memory’ with ‘long-term memory’ but experts believe that memories drip through the three memory-making stages.

So how do emoji domains fare up?

  1. Emoji certainly have a visual pattern. Even though emoji font styles differ between platforms and operating systems, they generally have a unifying look. This is being strengthened by upgrades to either emoji sets- as in the new Google and Samsung emoji fonts that reflect that of Apple’s font- or to individual emoji at the behest of the public, as in the redesign of the paella or burger emoji.
  2. If short-term memory acceptance is decided by length then at 1 character, emoji domains have a good shot.
  3. The ubiquity and social acceptance of emoji might suggest a repetitive exposure re-enforcing the memorability of emoji on a longer term basis. Emoji have broken out from the confines of our phones pervading multiple products and industry verticals as marketers latch on to the fondness we have for them. Just as a well known phrase like ‘Retail Therapy’ is better remembered as a domain, so too might an oft used emoji. 🛍

Pictures vs Words

Being extremely short gives emoji domains a distinct advantage of being remembered. But, being short isn’t exclusive to emoji domains.

The thing that is exclusive is that they are pictures. It’s a dramatic departure from what we’re used to and therefore a novelty as they float 🚢 amid a sea of letters.

Interestingly, pictures are also more easily recalled. This phenomenon is one of many cognitive memory biases and is called the Picture Superiority Effect.

This effect is widely accepted and has been demonstrated in numerous studies. What is still debated and therefore unclear is an explanation for it.

A popular theory is Allan Paivio’s dual-coding theory. A memory is encoded and exists verbally and/or imaginally. Images and pictures are encoded both ways and can be retrieved from ‘symbolic mode’ whereas words are only encoded verbally. Pictures are likely to create a verbal label whereas words are unlikely to create an image label.

Paivio’s study found that people remembered words that were more likely to spark ‘concrete’ images. For example, on a list of words it is easier to remember the word ‘cat’ because a mental image is easy to create, as opposed to the word ‘refusal’ because it is a more abstract concept. If this part of the theory were to extend to emoji domains, you might imagine that the noun product emoji domains hold a lot of power. The concrete concept of a ‘watch’ (⌚.ws) is easier to remember than the more abstract concept of ‘Grinning Face With Smiling Eyes’ (😄.ws)

Double character emoji domains exhibit another potentially powerful characteristic. In G.H Bower’s study Mental Imagery And Associative Learning it was discovered that pictures that interact with each other are more easily retained. So, imagine a beer company called Rock Beer. An advert showing a rock breaking a beer bottle would be recalled better than one showing a rock and beer side-by-side.

With the inherent creativity of emoji, double emoji whose two characters interact may prove to be more easily remembered by an audience of potential consumers.






The combinations here are interacting with each other to form a larger concept whether it be electric bicycles, nose rings, flights to Italy, Danish bacon or Brazilian bikinis.

From a later Paivio & Csapo study,

“Moreover, pictures in pairs or groups were better organized in our memory than words thus resulting in superiority in recall.”

Pictures are perceptually more distinct from one another compared to words. This helps memory retrieval, however, when pictures are similar to each other the picture superiority effect is negated. This further reinforces the need for digital marketers not to bleed traffic to similarly looking emoji domains.

A study by Terry L Childers and Michael J Houston has fascinating implications for emoji domains. Titled Conditions For A Picture-Superiority Effect On Consumer Memory and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Childers & Houston studied 271 subjects on their ability to recall ads.

The study found that images are more easily recalled and are better purposed for “media-paced exposure time”.

“Visual ads seem to require less frequency of exposure than that necessary for verbal ads to achieve the same effect on long-term memory.”

Emoji are native to such media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram that have fast-paced consumer exposure time. It doesn’t take much imagination to consider the potential of an emoji domain in this environment.

When it comes to advertising John R. Rossiter and Larry Percy’s study Advertising Communication Models which set out to determine “the way advertising works” states that,

“The picture is the most important structural element in magazine advertising, for both consumer and business audiences.”

While this study is concerned with advertising that uses pictures, it doesn’t account for the effectiveness of the campaign. Yes, a picture is more memorable but it doesn’t do anything. The picture that is an emoji domain is also the architecture by which you reach an online destination. An interactive, memorable picture that does something. That’s quite a compelling argument for emoji domains as tools in a marketers tool box.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed the article I would love you to share it using the buttons below.

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By | 2018-02-28T17:25:06+00:00 February 28th, 2018|reasons to use emoji domains|0 Comments

Brevity: 1/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains

Brevity: 1/9 Reasons to use Emoji Domains

Because being short is OK 🐜

Tiny House Photo by Jessie Renée on Unsplash

As part of the homepage at I write a short paragraph or two on the 9 benefits that I believe give emoji domains value.

In this series I want to expand on and explore each one, opening up the potential value emoji domains might hold as marketing tools for modern businesses.

In this first part I’ll be discussing the brevity of emoji domains.

Briefly setting the Scene with Existing Short Domains

To understand the value a single or double character emoji domain has we need to pay attention to short names in the characters we’re used to seeing domains written in; letters and numbers. In the world of online naming short names are coveted. 4-letter (4L) domains like and 3-letter (3L) domains like are examples of names that hold value. Equally, domains with four numbers (4N) and three numbers (3N) hold value.

For an idea of how much real businesses have paid for these kind of names check out the links below with the understanding that what you see are only the reported sales. It’s highly likely that many more unreported sales exist at higher price levels.





The highest price tags come from the meanings found in the short words. The 4L domains at the high end are recognisable dictionary words like fund and shop that have a straightforward commercial application online.

The 3L domains with high sales prices also follow the pattern with tom, sex and fly being examples.

The numbered domains, while perhaps slightly surprising at first, also have meaning to certain cultures. In China many more domains include numbers because they have meaning alone or in combination. The number ‘8’ for example is very popular due to its positive connotations.

It’s easy to see the value in a domain like It’s a real word with possible financial commercial application online. What about a more seemingly random set of letters like These types of domains are often used as acronym shorteners for companies with unwieldy names. A quick google search shows some possible users like the Data Software Research Company or David Skaggs Research Center.

If domain names are the addresses of our digital businesses, it’s important to make them as accessible as possible. Every small move towards accessibility is the equivalent of moving a physical shop closer to the high street.

A longer walk to a physical shop adds friction to that customer’s journey. The same idea can be applied to short online addresses. The shorter the journey to the address, the less friction.

Saving Time and Attention Spans

A short domain saves time, often touted as our most valuable asset.It’s now widely known that two major technology shifts have occurred over the last 5 years in the way we communicate. We are moving to smaller, busier devices.The first shift was from desktop to mobile which now accounts for the majority of web usage on a worldwide scale.

Mobile web usage overtakes desktop web usage

The second shift was from social networks (Facebook) to messaging apps (Whatsapp)

Messaging apps overtaking social networks

While smartphones have generally been increasing in size they still have relatively small keyboards and who wants to spend the time typing out long domains like D a t a S o f t w a r e R e s e a r c h C o m p a n y . c o m?

Thats 31 individual keystrokes on a very small keyboard.

D S R C . c o m is only 8 keystrokes.

What if you wanted to get it shorter? DSRC is comparatively short and accounts for every word. But, let’s say you wanted to get it really short. Well, you can’t have as there are only a few single letter .com domains in the wild.

Active single letter domains (source: Wikipedia)

The 2-letter option,, is already taken and is a one page site about the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. If you could persuade the owner to sell the domain you’d be looking at a multi-million dollar deal going on the basis that IG Group paid $4.7M to buy and Facebook paid $8.5M in cash with a remainder in stocks for These prices were from 2013 and 2010 respectively and so arguably would be higher if sold today.

The 3-letter option,,is owned by a tech company based in Korea. If you could get them to part with it you might be looking at anywhere from $20,000 to $2,000,000 as in the case of

Recent 3L .com prices excluding non-western premium letters (source:


This emoji domain is a single character domain. In total the link has only 4 elements.

  1. 📊
  2. .
  3. w
  4. s

You can argue that to switch between the emoji keyboard and the ASCII keyboard there are an additional 2 keystrokes to make a 6 keystroke long domain.

  1. switch from ASCII (default keyboard) to emoji keyboard
  2. 📊
  3. switch back to ASCII keyboard
  4. .
  5. w
  6. s

At 6 keystrokes the domain is equal length to a 2-letter .com domain

  1. D
  2. S
  3. .
  4. c
  5. o
  6. m

But, the emoji domain 📊.ws also gives context to the link. It won’t tell you exactly what you might find but in comparison to it hints at something. You might expect data, graphs, research, mathematics, experimentation and results among other things.

Apart from the fact that it is a picture, often in colour, standing out in a sea of text and a native, accepted part of modern messaging parlance, an emoji domain’s ability to give context in its 1 character must give it some value.

Short = Easier to Spell

Another aspect of valuable domains is the ease of saying and spelling them. A digital address that’s easy to say and spell is more easily distributed. With fewer letters comes fewer spelling complications. Short words like fundshopflytomdo and me are simple and 99% foolproof when it comes to spelling.

But how do you spell an emoji?

Spelling is only the naming or writing of letters in the correct sequence to form a word or a domain in this context.

Someone seeing an emoji domain on a billboard or in a tweet need only remember the emoji sequence in order to spell the domain. I’ll cover in more detail how we remember pictures versus words in another post but it’s safe to say remembering a sequence of one or two pictures is an achievable feat, especially if that picture is one your subconscious sees on a regular basis. Active emoji users recognise the graphic style of emoji and would likely still pick one out that they’ve never used before.

To counter the popular argument that emoji can be easily confused with each other I suggest that domains using ASCII characters are no different.

Where these emoji domains might be confusing:






So might these ASCII domains:

Emoji domains won’t displace what we’re used to. They aren’t faultless and should only ever be thought of as an additional marketing tool. They do, however, possess many qualities other domain names do not and so are a worthy addition. (Did I mention they are colourful pictures?🎉)

A digital marketer using emoji domains needs to be as careful when employing one as they would with a regular domain. Take the words connoisseur and expert. They have different nuances but one word is much easier to spell and remember than the other.

A better domain is a simpler, shorter one.

You might equate it to using a single character smiley with a solid degree of differentiation like these ones:

🤡 🤑 🤯 🧐 🤠

These emoji are both short and easier to ‘spell’


Short domains are also rare. With only 26 letters in the alphabet there are only 26 different 1-letter domains in the .com extension we’re most used to.

There are only 676 2-letter combinations and 17,576 3-letter combinations in the .com extension.

As of February 2018, there are just under 2823 single emoji including those that use ZWJ sequences and modifiers with the newest batch of 157 emoji having been announced by The Unicode Consortium.

Since 2010 rare single character emoji (excluding ZWJ sequences and modifiers) have been added at the following rate:

2010: 985

2011: 0

2012: 13

2013: 0

2014: 104

2015: 36

2016: 76

2017: 56

2018: 77

Single character emoji without ZWJ sequences or modifiers added since 2010 (Source:

At this rate it will take a few years to get to the 3L .com level of rarity at 17,576. In addition, many of the emoji have very specific industry uses. There is only one ⌚ emoji, for example, and so must be fought over by the tens of thousands of businesses that operate in the watch industry. This makes emoji domains with very specific meanings even rarer. Conversely, a 3-letter domain like could be put to use across multiple industry verticals.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed the article I would love you to share it using the buttons below.

Then say hello on Twitter 🐦

By | 2018-02-28T17:26:06+00:00 February 23rd, 2018|reasons to use emoji domains|0 Comments