Entertaining in contents but serious in domains

August 11, 2018 (Sat). If you are looking for great entertainment in China, iQiyi is the place to go. Each month over 500 million users sign in to this online service and spend 6 billion hours on it. In fact, iQiyi has become one of the largest video platforms in the world. When it comes to domain strategy, iQiyi is very serious.

The startup was founded in 2010 as Qiyi but rebranded to iQiyi (爱奇艺) a year later. i rhymes with 爱 (love) and Qiyi is Pinyin for 奇艺 (wonderful art). It uses the brand-matching as its corporate domain but also owns the country extension domain In addition, the company has acquired many related domains such as,,,,,,,, and In 2014, iQiyi captured its crown jewel for 1 million yuan as well as for 6 figures.

The first thing we can learn from iQiyi is to value visitor traffic and not to waste it. For example, visitors landing at,, and are all forwarded to If you see the life time value of a customer, then you want to courteously guide every misplaced visitor to your main store. This means to activate related domains and forward visitors to your corporate domain.

Owning may turn out to be a strategic move. Country extension domains will become critical as national governments impose censorship and data control. In the future, if the government requires both Chinese contents and domains to remain inside China, the company can simply place inside China to serve the Chinese customers while keeping outside China to serve the rest of the world.

A puzzling issue is the company's rebranding to a longer and less clear name. The original name Qiyi is short, brandable, and 2-pin (two Pinyin words) which is a very popular naming pattern in China. On the other hand, iQiyi mixes the rhyming letter "i" with the 2-pin name, which requires additional effort to memorize. Even though the difference is small, in today's "instant" society every second counts.

Also, "iQiyi" is not easy to pronounce in English. However, they can simply rebrand to which they already own. Such branding strategy has been tried successfully by Jing Dong since they acquired in 2012. Today, is a household name for online shopping. Therefore, startups with global aspiration should consider English-based names like and, or pronounceable Pinyin-based names like and The ultimate choice may be one which is both English and Pinyin – the best example being

In short, iQiyi shows us a solid domain strategy of using brand-matching .com as corporate domain, securing country extension domain(s), and protecting related domains.

Join me on LinkedIn for further discussion.