AI Podcast: GoDaddy Takes AI to New Domains

by Allison Toh

A good domain name is about more than just clever wordplay and search engine optimization. It’s also about the value that it has and could have in the future.

GoDaddy, the internet domain registrar and web hosting company, is using AI to help its users understand the worth of their website domain names.

“In the last year and a half, we’ve been using deep learning to try to model this market for domain names, and predict what a domain name will sell for,” said Jason Ansel, senior principal engineer at GoDaddy. “And our deep neural network is currently about 25 percent better than a human expert.”

As a result, GoDaddy can give small players in the market advice about what to ask for, or if they’re buying, it can give them confidence that they’re getting a good value.

Since GoDaddy operates the largest aftermarket in domain names, it has access to lots of data about domain names that both sell and don’t sell.

“Domain names are an interesting problem area because there are aspects of natural language processing in there,” said Ansel, who holds a Ph.D. from MIT, in a conversation with AI Podcast host Noah Kravitz. “Domain names consist of words, but they’re not really sentences.”

GoDaddy’s large datasets helped Ansel’s team reach the conclusion that their prediction intervals are 20% to 200% more efficient than the ones generated by past techniques.

“We’re only going to have more data, and the computing power behind it is growing at a really fascinating rate,” said Ansel. “And so I’m hopeful that we’ll find, sort of, even better techniques in the future.”

According to Ansel, GoDaddy’s ultimate goal in incorporating AI is to help small businesses stay competitive.

By using deep learning to predict the value of domain names, Ansel says GoDaddy hopes to democratize the market for them.

“If we make it easier for people to participate and act intelligently in the aftermarket, then you can start seeing regular people start investing in domain names and viewing domain names as an asset class that they add to their portfolio,” Ansel said.

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