Study says typosquatting money big. But there may be a conflict of interest.
A new study suggests that Google may earn $497 million a year from typosquatters targeting the 100,000 most popular .com sites on the web.
Although I question some of the logic in the report and its appendices, and it is tainted by one of the authors being involved in a lawsuit against Google for typosquatting, the data is still fascinating.
First, for the claim of $497 million in revenue from typosquatting each year. That’s based on some assumptions that are weak at best:
-The study reviewed the top 3,264 .COM web sites, and found that 0.7% of their traffic was from typos. It then extrapolated this to the top 100,000 .com sites, assuming that much typo traffic to those sites as well. The truth is, typosquatters rarely target these less popular sites, meaning that less of their traffic is typosquatted.
-The authors concluded that domain revenue per search is the same as that of searches at Google. This is based on a vary narrow Efficient Frontier case study.
On the other hand, the authors may have under-counted traffic in other ways. For example, the report doesn’t take into consideration Google and Yahoo’s error redirect services, in which ISPs and computer makers hijack typos and send them to pages full of ads. It also doesn’t take into consideration typos such as .cm.
But the report is certainly fascinating. The authors found the most popular Google advertiser IDs on typo domains. They feature common names such as GoDaddy (probably through auto-parked pages on customers’ domains) and Sedo.
For domain servers with over 100,000 domains, the report found that dnsnameserver.org (FirstLook) had the highest ratio of typo domains at 4.75%, followed by trellian.com at 4.47% and hitfarm.com at 3.76%. When you look at nameservers over 25,000 domains, the top two are 365.com at 8.89% and ParkLogic.com at 8.19%.
Of course, not all typos are used inappropriately. CitizenHawk shows up as having 32% of its domains as typos, but the company is holding these on behalf of the trademark holders.
The report also found a number of extraordinarily “clean” nameservers. One of those is Michael Berken’s MostWantedDomains.com.
Another interesting finding is the domains that are most typosquatted by competitors to send traffic to their sites. It names the competitor that is receiving the traffic, too.
One final point. The authors found their crawlers blocked after hitting domain parking company’s nameservers excessively. They suggest the parking companies were trying to thwart the authors’ efforts. My guess is their click fraud and DDOS systems just kicked in.
At any rate, the research is worth reviewing.
[Via New Scientist]