Yes you have read that correctly. Emoji Domains! While you don’t often see many emojis in domains, they have been around for quite a while. As a matter of fact they have been around since 2001 when the first emoji domain was bought.
The one problem being back then in 2001, no one could see the brilliant cartoon pictures.
With the rise of emojis since the early 2000’s, people have been using them more and more. But are emoji Domain’s relevant or should people just stick to using the laughing face when they’re texting their friends?
Can emojis be the new hashtag or will they fade out quicker than fidget spinners? Some people may even say hashtags have been short lived but, but they’ve made a lasting impact on the way we communicate and find information online.
Let’s see if emoji domains are a gimmick, or if they have an actual use for businesses.
History of Emojis
The first ever mobile devices which allowed emojis hit the market in 1999. At this time, a Japanese telecoms company released the original 176 cartoon pictures and labelled them emojis.
But why are they called emojis?
Most people assume it’s to do with the word emoticon. Actually, in Japanese, the letter ‘e’ represents the word picture, and the word ‘moji’ is a character. Emoji simply means picture character. Sounds simple now.
When the first emojis were released, they were very simple and neat. No one really knew how to use them properly and since then they have been used to describe how people are feeling and their body language over text.
How do Emoji Domains Work?
Emoji domains work in a very unique way. Every emoji is converted into Unicode, which is the xn code you’ll see the emoji convert into within the address bar.
Emoji domains also use ASCII, which stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This code can only be understood by computers.
Essentially, this converts every letter and character into a string of numbers. Until 2010 this was the only way emoji domains could be registered.
In 2010 algorithms called ToASCII and ToUnicode were developed to translate Unicode into ASCII and vice versa.
A process called Punycode then creates the domain names based on these algorithms. This is why you will see the xn address in the address bar when you search an emoji domain.
Who Creates Emojis?
A non-profit organisation is in charge of defining emoji characters and encoding new emojis into Unicode.
The company is called Unicode Consortium and was founded in 1991. Since 2010 registering emoji domains have become harder as they can only be registered at country code top-level domains and there are only a handful of country codes that allow this.
For example the UK and US top level domains don’t support emojis. Two country codes you can use for emoji domains are as follows:
- .ws (Western Samoa)
- .to (Tonga)
New characters with different hair styles were included in the new emoji pack, as well as male and female superheroes. Many animals were included in this including a badger, a peacock, a kangaroo and parrot.
Unique items such as a skateboard, a compass, toilet roll, infinity and a softball were also included.
2016 was the year emoji’s took off, with over 250 emojis being added to the lexicon.
One of the most popular emojis, the rolling around with laughter face was also added in 2016.
Problems with Emoji Domains
As great you might think emoji domains sound, there are plenty of problems to consider. One of the biggest problems is that not all emojis show the same on different devices and browsers.
For instance, some emojis may be quite realistic on some devices, and more cartoonish on others. Examples of this is below;
- Water on iOS is shown as a single tap whereas on Android it is shown as a sign.
- The dizzy face on Apple is shown as a cross-eyed face, whereas on Facebook and Messenger it is shown as spiralled eyes.
There are also a large number of very similar emojis. This can be quite confusing for users when searching up web addresses/domains. For example, there are at least 6 different grinning faces.
If you used one of these in your domain name, chances are that most users would fail to choose the right one. Then they’re unlikely to find your site.
You may even go onto a different domain by entering the wrong emoji in the bar. As a backup, you’d need to buy all six domains and use redirections to your actual site.
Most human emojis offer a choice of six different skin tones. This again increases the awkwardness when emojis are used for a domain.
Each one of the different skin tones is technically a different emoji.
As you can imagine it might be difficult to find the correct domain. This also means there could be six possible domains from the ‘one’ emoji, which can cause issues when people are trying to reach certain sites.
Another problem emoji domains have is how accessible emojis are. Most devices support devices, but not all users know how to find them.
On desktops to access emojis you will need to find your virtual keyboard. On Windows and MacOS, this is buried within your accessibility settings. Most users won’t even know that it exists.
Getting to the emoji’s on desktop is a task in itself.
Access on mobiles and tablets is still quite difficult too. This is because you need to go onto a separate keyboard to find them. There are hundreds and hundreds of emoji’s so to find the right emoji for you, you will need to go left and right quite a few times.
Because of this, emoji domains will greatly limit your chances of getting any direct or organic traffic. That is, if people don’t know how to type in emojis, they’ll never search for your site.
Will Emoji Domains Ever Take Off?
Emoji domains will probably never be widely used. Firstly registering a domain is difficult, and you can only use a small number of unpopular top level domains. Secondly, emoji domains will hurt your traffic more than helping it.
However, there are still some scenarios where you might use an emoji in your domain.
Emoji domains are a great Easter egg a company can use to increase creativity in their campaigns.
Coca-Cola used an emoji domain once for an advertising campaign and it was successful. They used the smiley face domain, the smiley face being one of the most used emojis.
Other massive companies such as Sony pictures and Budweiser also use emoji domains to redirect to their website, which is great fun and probably the perfect way to use emoji domains.
So if there is a future for emoji domains, it will most likely be as a novelty way to redirect campaign traffic to your site. Great fun, eh?
Are Emoji Domains Relevant?
Overall, emoji domains are probably never going to see widespread use, but they do have strong potential. In particular, they can be used creatively during your marketing campaigns. They are a great alternative to redirect domains to your sites.
Additionally, as emoji domains grow in popularity for marketing campaigns, the demand for them will also grow. For that reason, it makes sense to purchase emoji domains now, with a view to selling them in future.