Typosquatters: Google, Yahoo, Hucksters Profit From Your Butter Fingers

Don’t you hate it when you try to go to BestBuy.com and accidentally replace the first vowel with a w? Or put a hyphen between best and buy? And you end up at one of those squatter advertisement sites, designed specifically to garner profits from the typos or ignorance of others?

Those sites are big business, believe it or not. “In two minutes, I can set up a thousand domain names,” claims one entrepreneur. “I know quite a few guys making over a million dollars a year from advertising on their domains… It’s like a 24-hour money-printing machine.”

But ad networks like Google’s and Yahoo’s are now coming under fire for allowing domain squatters and advertisement hucksters to turn a pretty profit off of their advertisement networks. Many trademark attorneys are finding it hard to reconcile Google’s “Do No Evil” policy with their business with companies that are preying on consumer confusion.

One revelation that amazed us in the linked article: “This form of online advertising relies on “type-in traffic”: users who type the information they’re looking for into the Web browser’s address bar instead of using a search engine. Industry analysts estimate 15 percent of Web traffic originates this way.” Only 15%? Maybe we’re old school, but the idea of getting to Best Buy’s homepage through MSN Search is like referencing the phone book every time you want to call your Mom. Just memorize it or put it on speed dial, already!

Typed too fast? Google profits from your typo [Seattle Times]