Advantages of splitting portfolios among several domain registrars: busting the myths

By Statton Hammock, Vice-President Head of IP Strategy, Government & Industry Relations, Clarivate Analytics
and Christopher Melka, Program Manager, MarkMonitor


Thinking of splitting your domain portfolio among multiple registrars? We believe that the reasons not to split a domain portfolio may outweigh the reasons to break one up. In this blog, we ‘bust’ a few of the more popular myths.


In more than a decade of helping individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations manage their domain name portfolios, Chris and I have worked with a few registrants who believe that splitting their domains among multiple registrars yields business or security advantages. While we respect these decisions, we don’t believe the perceived advantages are fully realized and the reasons not to split a domain portfolio outweigh the reasons for splitting up a domain portfolio. To further explain, we’d like to ’bust’ a few of the more popular myths about the advantages of using multiple registrars to manage your domains.


Myth #1: Security risks are minimized because if a breach occurs at one registrar, not all domains will be adversely impacted.

We believe that splitting a portfolio offers no added protection. When a security breach occurs, the target is usually a specific domain name rather than an entire portfolio.  In addition, security compromises overwhelmingly occur at the registry level rather than at the registrar level, most frequently in ccTLDs lacking robust security. The most important factor in handling a security breach is the close synchronization of activities between the registrant, registrar and the registry, and the registrar’s skill in coordinating these activities to fix the problem. Time-to-resolve a security breach is critical and a registrant that has to work between two registrars to check on vulnerabilities at a time of crisis slows down that reaction time.  Utilizing multiple registrars also means an increased number of attack vectors.


Myth #2: Costs are reduced by applying pricing pressure on multiple registrars.

While it may be true that some minimal TLD-specific pricing victories can be obtained by using multiple registrars, the effect is analogous to ‘squeezing one end of the balloon.’ Cost saved at one registrar is added to the operational expense of the other by increasing complexity of portfolio management, with more people hours dedicated to managing the portfolio. In addition, pricing among corporate registrars is based on the overall makeup of the portfolio and not necessarily individual TLDs.

Splitting the portfolio will make it harder for both registrars to offer more competitive pricing because of their pricing models. All registrars, particularly corporate registrars, reserve their best portfolio pricing for customers who commit to exclusivity and prefer a partner over a vendor.


Myth #3:  Because of today’s use of modern registrant account portals, it’s not difficult to manage and keep track of domains at multiple registrars.

This is probably the biggest myth of all. Having multiple domain name registrars means multiple login credentials to manage, multiple onboarding requirements to meet, multiple terms and conditions to follow, multiple invoices to process and multiple customer services personnel to contact and manage. It’s challenging enough to manage a domain portfolio through one registrar. Imagine increasing each challenge by a factor of two or more. This is not efficient and the reduced efficiency effectively creates more costs.


Myth #4:  Two registrars are better than one when it comes to new brand launches and maintaining domain renewals. 

Corporate clients often have new product launches that necessitate the registration of domain names across many domain name extensions. When these launches occur, the timing and effort to complete registrations across multiple registrars become problematic, and the risk of premature disclosure of any confidential launch increases when the client needs to engage multiple vendors. Similarly, for renewals, registrants benefit from being able to see their domain name expiration dates all in one place rather than spread out between multiple registrars. A consolidated portfolio decreases the risk that a domain name renewal slips through the cracks and an important domain name expires.


Myth #5: Having multiple registrars expands a registrant’s domain knowledge and network of experts that can be leveraged for its benefit.

Unfortunately, in a multi-domain registrar relationship, trust between the client and the registrar inevitably suffers. While most registrars will be professional, customer services personnel are understandably more reluctant to share proprietary methods and technical data when they know a client also uses a competing registrar for services and could pass such information on to them, unknowingly and often without malicious intent on the part of the client. Registrars may also be reluctant to share information regarding imminent product launches, new UI enhancements or new technical features in order to protect against the risk of being shared with competing registrars.


One final note: The domain name system (DNS) is inherently complex and requires the constant update of records on multiple servers around the globe. It’s crucial that the registrant information relating to every domain name be updated and consistent. Using multiple providers to manage DNS updates increases the risk that updates, changes, configurations fail or do not get processed in a timely, efficient manner. This can result in inadvertent domain expiration, landing page errors or security breaches. Putting your domain portfolio in the hands of one registrar, rather than several, will minimize these risks and provide you with the best support to manage these highly valued IP assets.

Learn more about MarkMonitor domain management solutions, or reach out to your customer services manager with any questions, and we will be happy to discuss further.