After a year of explosive growth, Go Daddy has surpassed 1&1 Internet as the world's largest web host - at least for the moment. With a net gain of 255K hostnames this month, Go Daddy's web infrastructure now houses 5,544,296 hostnames, about 95K more than 1&1, according to our Hosting Provider Switching Analysis. 1&1, which is based in Germany, has had the largest number of hostnames each month since the inception of the hosting survey in early 2003.
The milestone comes as Go Daddy prepares to advertise in Sunday's Super Bowl XL broadcast, which is expected to be seen by a global television audience of more than 90 million. Go Daddy, which will pay $2.5 million for each of two 30-second ads, had 13 of its edgy ad submissions rejected by ABC censors before gaining an approval on Thursday.
Why is Go Daddy so keen on advertising in the Super Bowl again this year? Did the company's controversial 2005 ad really help sell domains and hosting services? The numbers speak for themselves: Go Daddy has experienced powerful growth over the past year, adding 2.5 million hostnames since January 2005. Many of those hostnames represent sales of domain names, products that generate revenue once a year (upon the initial sale and each annual renewal). But domains are an important gateway to the sale of additional services such as web hosting and SSL certificates.
Perhaps a better indicator of Go Daddy's post-Super Bowl success is the growth of active sites - hostnames that contain content and thus are likely to be developed web sites generating hosting revenue each month. In the 12 months since the Super Bowl ad, Go Daddy has added 523,825 active sites, a growth rate of 136 percent.
While Go Daddy has experienced steady growth in hostnames, its active sites data has seen broader fluctuation, as have the hostname totals for 1&1 Internet. Any additional fluctuations could move 1&1 Internet back atop the hostname rankings. But Go Daddy's new Super Bowl ads may give it additional momentum in the short term. Last year Go Daddy surpassed Network Solutions as the largest domain registrar.
Not all of Go Daddy's growth is directly attributable to the Super Bowl ad. But the commercial and resulting publicity gave Go Daddy widespread name recognition, a significant factor in an industry that previously had few killer brands. The broadcast monitoring firm MultiVision estimated that the Super Bowl controversy supplied Go Daddy with the equivalent of $11.7 million in free publicity. Go Daddy continued TV advertising throughout 2005, and extended its Internet marketing with Parsons' blog and the weekly Radio Go Daddy podcast.