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Google Makes $500M a Year On Typos

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the tahts-aolt-fo-mnoey dept.

Advertising 98

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on an analysis by Harvard researchers that suggests Google rakes in half a billion dollars annually from advertising that appears on typosquatting domains. They estimate that 60 per cent of typosquatting pages use Google ads, but the advertising giant declined to discuss whether it should be working with such pages."

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Smart people. (4, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183480)

Someone on Google saw some new Internet service and said "I wish I had $0.01 for each typo the teens make."
Someone else said "You know, that's a really, really good idea. Let's do it."

Re:Smart people. (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183602)

Someone on Google saw some new Internet service and said "I wish I had $0.01 for each typo the teens make." Someone else said "You know, that's a really, really good idea. Let's do it."

That's not Google though, that's the people who registered the typo domains that are proactively making this happen. Google's ad service just might be what they use to recoup their registration/squatting fees. Google's not actively registering these sites and putting up ads to get money off of typos, rather someone else is doing that shady practice and sharing the profits with Google. Since Google makes their AdWords product easy to use and profit off of, they most likely use them and Google never realizes it until:

A Google spokesperson pointed out that the company will remove ads from typo domains if the owner of a site with a trademarked name makes a complaint, but declined to discuss the research in more detail.

Hate to sound like a fanboy on this one but Google's profits are from just offering an ad service. That's about as far as their evil goes here, they're even willing to kill those profits if the legit domain complains to them about the typo squatter.

Re:Smart people. (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183894)

You're such a cynicism amateur. What if they covertly own the typosquatters? Huh? HUH?
Betcha didn't think of *that*!

Re:Smart people. (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183900)

It's not as simple as that tho. AdSense policies have many, many rules about where their ads can be put and they do check those sites (and this includes rules against that aren't even illegal, but just for quality control). If they really cared about typo-squatting, they would add it in the rules too.

Also, another thing to consider is that the typo-squatted domains are quite targeted traffic for advertisers too. Because it doesn't lower the quality of AdSense network, and because it brings them lots of money, Google won't do anything about it.

Re:Smart people. (1)

nashv (1479253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185748)

Except there is nothing wrong with 'typosquatting'. It isn't really squatting if they are paying to register those domains. As far as I know, and IANAL, brand names have very precise definitions and that is why anyone trying to make a fake/copy often has to change it a little so it isn't illegal. Ever been to Vietnam and buy Tommi Hilfigger[sic] jeans?

Re:Smart people. (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185990)

Except there is nothing wrong with 'typosquatting'. It isn't really squatting if they are paying to register those domains. As far as I know, and IANAL, brand names have very precise definitions and that is why anyone trying to make a fake/copy often has to change it a little so it isn't illegal.

Ever been to Vietnam and buy Tommi Hilfigger[sic] jeans?

The limit to trademark is "likely to cause confusion" IIRC. IANAL. Also, it is domain squatting if you try to charge the trademark holder an exorbitant amount of money for the domain when the IANA (or whomever) rules say it should be theirs in the first place.

Re:Smart people. (2, Insightful)

gnu-user (162334) | more than 4 years ago | (#31187018)

Google acts as a positive force on typo squatting. I had a few limited dealings with a domain squatter who transitioned into typo ad link selling. His desire for google money (it pays a lot more consistently and a better return then any of the other buyers) led him to put a lot of work into the "site" cleaning it up and making it almost normal. Google pushed this and he responded.

Prior to google, his primary revenue stream was the more aggressive/shadier hawkers of payed links. Among other things he offered a "search toolbar" install. Most of that went away with better google money.

While he probably would have had trouble with the "adult" ads, I remember a lot more of the typo squatters relying on those dollars. I'd much rather have discrete adwords popping up...

Keep in mind he was originally sold a bill of goods as a domain squatter. The ISP he uses certainly profits from his business, as well as the registrars he uses. There are a lot of people with their hands in this, not just Google.

Re:Smart people. (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31195384)

Actually, Google has a whole white label typo-squatting product, tailor made for the purpose:

AdSense for Domains [google.com]

Re:Smart people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184022)

they're even willing to kill those profits if the legit domain complains to them about the typo squatter.

They're not doing it out of sheer benevolence and goodwill, though. IP companies are breathing down their neck. Several courts in the EU for example already ruled that using trademarks as adwords is illegal. Of course that mostly applies to whoever buys these adwords, but the crazier courts seem to pass some of the buck to Google.

PS: Oh the irony ... captcha is "converse" ... I wonder what the legality of using trademarks as captchas is ...

Re:Smart people. (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184110)

True, but that's been Google's policy since they noticed that people where using Google ads on cybersquatting pages. And it's still not benevolence, though it is goodwill. There's no sense getting business owners (potential future adspace purchasers) getting all bent out of shape. Smashing a few cybersquatters is just good business.

PS: Oh the irony ... captcha is "converse" ... I wonder what the legality of using trademarks as captchas is ...

While "Converse" (the sneakers) may be a trademark, "converse" is also a perfectly valid English word. They could even use the word "windows" without involving trademark issues. Of course, they could also use the trademarked name "microsoft", since it's not a use that would infringe on the trademark in any way. Captcha is not a business competitor, and use as a captcha word doesn't cause brand confusion or dilution.

Re:Smart people. (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184608)

What is shady about it? Should they just redirect to the proper spelling?

Re:Smart people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31186854)

That seems ludicrously unfair.

As a hypothetical, say I had a website, boogle.com or something. Along comes google, they get big, and suddenly I get a ton of hits from typos. So now my site shouldn't get ANY hits because a bigger company came along?

Or if google came first. Say I've never heard of it. I register the website which is similar. I get a ton of hits from typos. Am I no longer allowed to have this domain?

And before you say "noone's never heard of google", a) a coworker of mine hadn't until I told them about it a few weeks ago, and b) replace 'google' with any other large company that may not have been heard of by some of the population.

Even "obvious" sites bilking off of redirects may not have had this happen inadvertantly. In my first example, say I decided to move my main website to some other domain name, and keep ownership of my original domain to make money from ads. Is that illegal? Should I not be allowed to do that? It's my site, I can do what I want with it.

I realize this is an unpopular position, since everyone... including myself... hates typosquatters, since they just soak up domain names, and many are outright scammers trying to look like the site they're typosquatting to phish for info.

However, there's no way to punish the wrong without also unfairly punishing the right.

Re:Smart people. (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184610)

they're even willing to kill those profits if the legit domain complains to them about the typo squatter.

Google allows all sorts of questionable activity, as long as trademark owners don't complain. I have first hand experience with this.

I won't go into the details, but do a quick search on "affiliate arbitrage" and look at some of the shady stuff that is going on. I have a friend who made a lot of money by bidding on typos on AdWords. Google has a huge conflict of interest by running an advertising network and and affiliate network (DoubleClick), as they stand to make boatloads of money from both ends. They turn a blind eye until the merchants complain.

I think the sole reason this is allowed is because there is so much money involved, and in many cases the merchants will tolerate a certain amount of questionable behavior because they are still making sales.

Re:Smart people. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184674)

Smart Google : https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=105924

Google knowledge & actions, and ACPA requireme (1)

bedelman (42523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185004)

Surely it's not Google's fault that some people misspell. But our study shos that typosquatters register more domains targeting companies in sectors with high PPC prices. That tells us that PPC funding is *causing* and *exacerbating* typosquatting. Without PPC payments, there would be fewer typosquatting registrations -- much less reason for squatters to register these domains. Google's payments put the system in motion; squatters register domains exactly in anticipation of getting paid by Google. Google knows where it's showing ads. (Example: Google shows Expedia ads if you misspell Expedia, but Travelocity ads if you misspell Travelocity!) So it's natural to look to Google for resolution of these problems.

Incidentally, the federal ACPA statute is squarely on point: Your elected congressmen chose to prohibit not just "register[ing]" domains but also "us[ing]" domains. Showing ads on domains is surely a kind of "use."

So is Google "just offering an ad service"? No! Google analyzes a user's request, assess what domain the user was trying to reach, and selects ads accordingly. Google bills advertisers for each click and passes payment on to the typosquatters. These are proper reasons for the concerned public to demand more of Google.

Re:Smart people. (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185008)

Google hosts more "squat pages" and "doorway pages" and "spam pages" than any other company in the world - literally millions of them.

So-called "domainers" use them because google makes it so easy - register the domain, park it at google, and make money.

Don't believe it? Do a search for "google park domain adsense"

Here's the first result from scroogle [google.com] :

Google AdSense for Domains Earn revenue on your parked pages with Google AdSense for domains.
What is AdSense for domains?

AdSense for domains allows publishers with undeveloped domains to help users by providing relevant information including ads, links and search results.

With AdSense for domains, users can find relevant information rather than see empty pages or "page not found" errors. To ensure positive user experience and the quality of our network, these sites are monitored for policy compliance and prohibited from using text and images designed to confuse users.

AdSense for domains provides advertisers with additional opportunities to find their customers, and ads on these pages convert well. In addition, we regularly receive requests from advertisers who have found domains to be an effective way to reach their users.

If you have undeveloped domains, then AdSense for domains can help your users. To get started, check out our setup instructions, and visit our Help Center for more information.

Q: What domains are eligible for AdSense for domains?
A: AdSense for domains can be used on any domain that adheres to Google's policies.

Q: Is Google involved in the selection or registration of the domains in the AdSense for domains program?
A: Google is not involved with the selection or registration of these domain names, and is not in a position to arbitrate trademark disputes between the registrants, our partners, and trademark owners. Accordingly, we encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with the registrants or registrars. As a courtesy to trademark owners, Google provides a simple publicly available complaint procedure and, once notified of a legitimate complaint against a specific domain, Google will no longer serve ads to that domain. For instructions on how to file a complaint, please refer to the Trademark Complaint Process page. Additionally, a copy of our publicly available trademark policy is available online.

This isn't the only way that google encourages the growth of cruft on the web. Almost 90% of the bogus registrations on the forums I run are made from gmail spam accounts. Not surprising, given that you can buy compromised gmail accounts for less than a penny a piece - or if you want to buy in bulk, you can get even better discounts - like 25,000 gmail accounts for $100.00.

They don't clamp down on it because it helps them train their spam filters, but the rest of us suffer the consequences.

Yes, I know, the problem will go away in 10 years, when all computers are powerful enough to run AI software capable of recognizing and squelching EVERY ad, including product placements in real-time video feeds ... and with it google's revenue model ...

Re:Smart people. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185386)

So if a xcompany with a trademark complaints, they remove it, but if I complain they won't? And then the company who has the trademark will most likely not have the trademark on the typo, so they have not a real foot to stand on.

Now if they would say "if we see a sqatter, we remove the ads" then everybody can complain, Google investigates and removes if they are ineed sqatters.

Adsense scamming is actually an improvement (1)

AndrewStephens (815287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31193720)

I agree, and make the additional point that typosquatters exploiting adsense is actually a huge improvement on how things used to be!

For those with short memories, in the late 1990s when the Internet really got going with the general public but before adsense, the only way typosquatters could make money was by offering ads to porn sites or serving up malware (or both). Getting a single letter wrong in a URL usually meant getting a face full of porn (and not good porn either) or long hours reinstalling your OS. As soon as adsense came along the scammers realised they could make more money with legit ads and quit with the porn.

Don't get me wrong, the scammers still suck. They just suck less they they used to.

Re:Smart people. (1)

Mantis8 (876944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184416)

I used to be a search engine results evaluator for a company that does contract work for google. (Yes, google does have humans rate sites besides its complex, ever-changing, and mysterious algorithm). Sites like these are rated as off-topic and get flagged as a spam site as well, which would drop their rankings. Thus, they would get fewer traffic hits, and google would make less money off of them. So I think its just a temporary gig for the spam site - they try to make as much money as they can before the inevitable demotion in the rankings.

Google should thus do a better job of screening the sites in the first place and prevent them from even getting into the system. In the long run, this is what actually pays off the most for the almighty goog because this would make for a better search experience for their customers, which is why google is the number 1 search engine in the world and how they make so much money in the first place.

Re:Smart people. (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184458)

This has nothing to do with search engine results, spam sites or ranking. People go to typo-squatted domains because they, well, typo it to their address bar.

totally (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183506)

u lost the game

If only... (5, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183528)

Slashdot got a nickel for every typo...

Re:If only... (1)

carolfromoz (1552209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183914)

Actually - I once went to slashdit.org by accident and there were ads there. Don't know who is making money from that.

It also displayed that tired old assumption that only "guys" come to slashdot. It's bad enough going to an ad site without being called a "computer-type guy".

Re:If only... (1, Funny)

webreaper (1313213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184098)

You mean there are women here? :-o

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184166)

You mean there are women here? :-o

Let's just say that nearly everyone who visits slashdot prefers the company of women.

Re:If only... (1)

carolfromoz (1552209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31197924)

Guilty as charged ;-)

Re:If only... (1)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184214)

Actually - I once went to slashdit.org by accident and there were ads there. Don't know who is making money from that.

Well, I just had to check and what do you know? "Ads by Google".
At least they were good enough to provide a link to the intended site. That's something, I guess.

Re:If only... (1)

AllyGreen (1727388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185266)

Gotta admit, thats one of the better squatters! Make their ad money and push the user in the right direction. Struggle to see any harm with that!

Re:If only... (1)

maevius (518697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31196692)

I don't get it. Why do this to slashdot where most of the users use adblock and even if they don't,they won't click on the ads (I hope...) just because it's a typo-squatted domain. Then again I appreciate their honesty...

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184086)

Slashdot got a nickel for every typo...

...Taco could easily have enough money to buy his PT Cruiser [flickr.com] back?

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184642)

Holy carp, the'yd be ric!h

Re:If only... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184970)

And a dime for every dupe...

Re:If only... (2, Funny)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31187834)

And a dollar for each hitler reference.

Hypocritical Policies (5, Informative)

celardore (844933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183542)

I'm sure that Google requires as a condition of their AdSense program, your site contains at least some content. They manually review sites before you get accepted into the AdSense program.

Unless of course you use their Domain Parking [google.com] option.

Re:Hypocritical Policies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184136)

That might be in the terms of service, but it is not held up in practice.

Re:Hypocritical Policies (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186144)

To quote P.T. Barnum: "There's a fucker born every minute."

Frist (3, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183576)

They won't maek a penny out of me!

Re:Frist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183892)

Hate to break it to you but: http://frist.com/

Re:Frist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31187292)

>_> you spelled "make" wrong ......

you can pay me now

Something I wondered about Google (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183592)

When you advertise with Google, they take an upfront fee. They want at least $50. Now they have the cash. They don't pay the website that's hosting the ads unless someone clicks on the ad AND check isn't written until the hoster's account hits $100. In the meantime, Google has the cash paid by the advertiser.

If any thing, the typo domain squatters are costing Google money or probably more accurate, making them not as profitable since they are planning to pay out the advertising share -eventually - but the money isn't in their bank. If that made any sense.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183688)

I'll admit I haven't ran a Google ad in about 6 months but when I did there was never any cost until my ad got clicks. No up-front fee it was pay as-you-go, cancel any time.

Has this changed??

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183926)

I believe you have to "fill" your account first. They don't invoice you or anything.

The GP is correct on the 'upfront' part.

In his mad rush to vilify Google, he forgot the fact that Google gets the float on the prepaid money, (just like paypal) and probably more than makes up for the difference.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31195412)

You do for new accounts, but for our old grandfathered accounts we don't.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (2, Informative)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183708)

No, that would mean they were making Google money. They get the advertiser's money. They hold it (accruing interest) and do not release it all until the recipients of the funds have reached preset limits for payment. Google is paying out very tiny amounts of money in these cases in varying time frames all the while collecting interest on the funds. A second added benefit is exposure and free advertising of their adwords service.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183950)

That's not true, these days at least. I set up my Adwords account without any upfront, and wasn't charged until after my ads began running. In addition, I got a $100 coupon for free ads, so I was able to run extensive tests before I had to start paying for them.

Adsense, however, seems very hard to make any scratch on. I've set it up on one of my sites, www.thankgodihadagun.com, and have gotten 100s of views, but no click-throughs. I've "made" $.01, and won't see a payout until I hit $100. It may be possible to make money on the domain parking stuff, but I've not tried that yet. There has to be a market segment that typos, doesn't know that they've done it, and click the first thing on the page. That, or you could lay out the page so it looks sorta-kinda okay, and people click an ad to see if they're on the right site.

Now I have a weekend project, lol.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184870)

Adsense, however, seems very hard to make any scratch on. I've set it up on one of my sites, www.thankgodihadagun.com, and have gotten 100s of views, but no click-throughs.

It depends on what types of ads get shown on your site. I ran a site that had some strange ads that did get a few clicks, which turned out to be over $1. I didn't earn enough to quit my day job, but for a while I was hitting the $100 threshold each month and getting paid.

Anyone can create a site and maybe get lucky with some high value ads, but if you want to really make money you need to invest some time and figure out what particular subject areas attract high paying ads that people will actually click.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186478)

Perhaps that's it - my site is about something that I feel strongly about, not targeted to a high-paying ad segment.

Good idea :)

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31190046)

I happened to get lucky, running a site about something I felt strongly about which turned out to have high paying ads that were getting a lot of clicks (relative to the site traffic).

BTW, nice site. I'm a big fan of "The Armed Citizen" column in American Rifleman and I'm sure there are many more articles out there. About a few months ago I had an incident where I was able to protect myself from some lunatic, but that doesn't belong here - maybe I'll contact you through your site.

Re:Something I wondered about Google (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31196144)

The profit portion of this site is an aside, really. I feel *very* strongly about the topic :)

Please do contact me on the site - or email me directly at the email on my profile here. There are other news aggregators out there, but I started www.thankgodihadagun.com to highlight personal accounts. I believe that we have a lot to learn from people who have "been there, done that", and if nothing else, these stories serve as a reminder to remain vigilant.

Finally - I made $6.72 on that site today. Freaking weird, since I've made $0.01 to this point.

Not just typos (5, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183672)

Once or twice in my life I have landed at a domain squatter's site due to a typo. Hundreds or thousands of times I have landed there due to links to sites that used to be something but are now run by the squatters.

Re:Not just typos (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184174)

These "domain harvesters" should be illegal and removed. Most of the time they follow a very basic structure, wonder who's behind them. Can we get some sort of vigilantism done on this thing...

Re:Not just typos (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186520)

How do you tell the difference between somebody who wants to buy a domain that used to be owned by somebody else in order to use the domain productively versus a harvester?

How do you tell that somebody who has nothing but ads on a web page on port 80 on www.example.com is not using the domain for other good reasons?

Re:Not just typos (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31195814)

Because the harvesters use the same template sometimes the same images even, the name is snatched from an expired domain and it's full of adlinks that have something thematically to do with what it was before, often there's shit on it like " THE BEST PLACE TO SEARCH FOR XYZ " And it's pretty obvious when one company has 2k+ sites with the same damn template, you figure it out!

Re:Not just typos (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31191350)

What makes me despair is that ads on these sites actually work. My first thought at landing on such a site is along the lines of wishing the operators would fuck off and die.

There must be a lot of retards out there I guess.

Re:Not just typos (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31191828)

There must be a lot of retards out there I guess.

Well, when I was new to the internet, I often landed on those sights from SEO, domain squatting or typos and yes, perhaps a bit retardedly, I really thought that the links there would get me to where I intended to be. They often do, I just didn't understand I was billing my intended sites for getting google-jacked or easily mistyped.

You have to have a bit of web savy (which is common for /.ers, but not for the average population) before you realize money is flowing every time you click those links, and going to people who are intentionally fucking up your web experience.

Fantasy math (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183686)

No logical leaps here:

If the company earns as much per visitor from ads on typo sites as it reportedly does from ads alongside search results, it could potentially earn $497 million a year in revenue from typo domains, they conclude.

From the Journanilst Bible Tome 1: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184248)

-How to be a good journalist: "Conditional news, are not news".

Sigh, guess someone forgot about that one.

Re:From the Journanilst Bible Tome 1: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184930)

Some context: New Scientist is a UK-based publication, meaning it isn't protected by the first amendment, and is subject to some of the tightest libel laws around. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/nov/10/libel-law-reform [guardian.co.uk] That being the case, you'll notice that a lot of UK news sources are extra cautious with any story that could potentially maybe cause an expensive lawsuit.

Re:Fantasy math (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184702)

What if it was an ad for the site you actually wanted? :)

estimate reference & methodology (1)

bedelman (42523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185096)

I'm not sure if you saw the portion of our article [benedelman.org] that develops the estimate and presents the methodology for the estimate. If not, that might be of interest.

As you say, it's hard to make a precise estimate. There are important pieces of data uniquely within Google's custody, and Google isn't talking. But in these circumstances, I do feel it's appropriate to make a good-faith estimate. If you think our numbers are in error, feel free to identify which specific numbers you think are off, in which direction, and for what reason. But realize that for every number you think is too high, there is likely to be another that might be too low. (We discuss some of these complications in the page linked above.) I don't think it's clear from first principles that our estimate is biased in one way or the other.

Old news, (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183718)

Google AdSense for Domains has more impressions than most people would believe.

Typosquatting is Evil (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183720)

Typosquatting is evil but, $500 million per year is delicious. How can we increase revenues? Ooh, let's run our own global DNS system do our own typo squatting and cut out the middle man!

Genious! Eric, peel me a grape.

Re:Typosquatting is Evil (2, Informative)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184730)

Except that Google's DNS makes a point of returning proper NXDOMAIN records [google.com] .

How does Google Public DNS handle non-existent domains?
If you issue a query for a domain name that does not exist, Google Public DNS always returns an NXDOMAIN record, as per the DNS protocol standards. The browser should show this response as a DNS error. If, instead, you receive any response other than an error message (for example, you are redirected to another page), this could be the result of the following:

  • A client-side application such as a browser plug-in is displaying an alternate page for a non-existent domain.
  • Some ISPs may intercept and replace all NXDOMAIN responses with responses that lead to their own servers. If you are concerned that your ISP is intercepting Google Public DNS requests or responses, you should contact your ISP.

Will Google Public DNS be used to serve ads in the future?
No. We are committed to preserving the integrity of the DNS protocol. Google Public DNS will never return the address of an ad server for a non-existent domain.

Why shouldn't they? (3, Insightful)

CSHARP123 (904951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183742)

As long as it is not leading the user to some fishy site, I think it is perfectly legit to work with these kind of sites especially when it involves $500 mil

Re:Why shouldn't they? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184188)

Not to be all corporatist, but I'm pretty sure that Google is directing people there either. They're system is designed to AVOID going to typo sites. I don't see it as all that unethical as a whole.

What's the intimation here? (4, Informative)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183748)

I hope they're not suggesting it's unethical of Google to work with these typo-squatters, because it simply isn't. Now, if the typo-squatters were trying to trick people into thinking they'd reached where they were attempting to get, that would be unethical.

It's becoming a moot point, anyway... Most people I know type the web address into the Google search box, then click on the link that appears.

Re:What's the intimation here? (1)

jgeiger (1356045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183990)

Yup. I type "facebook login" into the box every time!

Bookmarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31185550)

You may wish to use your browsers help function to research how to use bookmarks, they are a wonderful new invention.

Re:What's the intimation here? (1)

shaggyhiggins (1748448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185162)

Agreed. Let's compare to the 'real' (physical) world. If you were walking in a mall and accidentally went into the wrong store space, but instead of being a store its a room full of billboards and ad posters with some benches to sit on, would you write a letter to the mall management saying you should not allow the person who leases that space to put advertisements in that empty room over there because you meant to go into that store beside it? NO!! Every space in life is considered an Ad space, why would that be different on the internet where advertisement is the dominant source of revenues ??

Re:What's the intimation here? (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185782)

It's becoming a moot point, anyway... Most people I know type the web address into the Google search box, then click on the link that appears

Yep, my wife does that even though I've tried explaining a number of times that typing the name of the site in the URL box on (most) modern browsers will likely show her the site she wants. She has her way of doing it and it works for her and she won't change. In light of this I think Google's idea to combine URL and search into just the one box was a very smart move.

News at 11 (1)

token0 (1374061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183844)

Google makes money on ads. Typosquatting pages use ads (mostly Google ads). I can sense the evil.

Better them than other ad networks (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183866)

Considering Google's ad network is the least obtrusive, not likely to try to infect your computer, doesn't prevent you from hitting the "back" button, etc etc.

Having THEM make money on that type of fraud probably does less damage than Doubleclick, or whomever else would be doing it.

As long as the domains are fully paid for and not typosquatting domain-tasting operations I have no problem with it.

Re:Better them than other ad networks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184050)

I hate to break it to you but Doubleclick was bought by Google a few years ago.

Re:Better them than other ad networks (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31191390)

Just because two operations are owned by the same parent company does not imply that they behave in the same way.

Devil's advocate (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183868)

"Well if google does it, it's OK."

Namespace is a natural resource. A renewable one?

Good grief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183880)

Every thirteen year old with a cell phone will be a millionaire by year's end...

As Bartcop noted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31183918)

Bart's Law #2:
  Any time a person or entity makes a "mistake" that puts extra money (or power) in their pocket,
  expect them to make that "mistake" again and again and again. That's why refineries have fires now and then,
  because a fire allows them to scream "unexpected shortage" so they can gouge us on the price of gas.
http://www.bartcop.com/bartslaw.htm

Re:As Bartcop noted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184158)

Bart's Law #2:

  Any time a person or entity makes a "mistake" that puts extra money (or power) in their pocket,

  expect them to make that "mistake" again and again and again. That's why refineries have fires now and then,

  because a fire allows them to scream "unexpected shortage" so they can gouge us on the price of gas.
http://www.bartcop.com/bartslaw.htm

bartcop is 4chan for whacked-out conspiracy nuts - a left-wing FreeRepublic.

Ctrl-D (1)

thistheater (1748436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184412)

Headline should read: Single Keystroke Can Cut Google's Profits By $500m a Year

No different than a billboard (2, Insightful)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184522)

Legit squatting sites are no different than a billboard you see after you make a wrong turn while driving.

Like others have said, as long as they aren't a phishing site or trying to trick you into believing you are where you are not, then it sounds like there is no foul.

ssh hacks (4, Insightful)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184888)

One thing I've never seen discussed is how typosquaters can get your ssh passwords. I almost fell for one. Like many slashdotters I have some personal servers on adsl lines (moving IPs) and thus use the services of a dynamic DNS. I wanted to connect to user@myhomepc.dnsalias.com, one of the most common dynalic DNS, but mistyped the domain name (don't remember how exactly). I was nonetheless prompted for a password, which I stopped halfway, remembering that I had setup a public key and thus did not have to type one. It's easy to recompile ssh to log all passwords attempted. Hook it on a catchall for all subdomains and you can start gathering accesses...

Re:ssh hacks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31185484)

You should get a warning you're connecting to a host for the first time.
That should be a warning enough for you.

Re:ssh hacks (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186122)

Wait, what?! So you and another nerd (perhaps me) have an ssh service running. My dyndns username is a one letter from yours. You fat finger it, ignore the ssh key warning, and type in your username? You really think thats some hack? Err, time to take off the tin foil hat.

I doubt there's an army of dyndns typo domains just to get your password. Heck, how could you implement it? Lets say your domain is darguard.dyndns.org and the typo domain is dargard. How do they know it was dargaurd that visited and not dargarf or darfard? Typos are two way street. Regardless, this is why we have key change warnings.

Re:ssh hacks (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186426)

I doubt there's an army of dyndns typo domains just to get your password. Heck, how could you implement it? Lets say your domain is darguard.dyndns.org and the typo domain is dargard.

IF it were to be done, I would expect the typosquatter would register typo domains for the dynamic dns provider domain (e.g., register "dydns.org", etc.) and then just engage the password capturing code on any subdomain that a request came to, assuming that the subdomain was correct.

Re:ssh hacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31193408)

I don't know about an army--but my box on dynsdns is waiting for SSH passwords. Actually, it never occurred to me I might get an *innocent* person with it.

I've got my SSHD running on a nonstandard port, and 22 is redirected (not going to run as root...) by the firewall to a process that rejects two passwords in a row from a host, and then lets the third one into a "shell" that returns 0 for everything, but doesn't actually execute any commands. While logging them safely to a disk.

I saw the SSH botnets and wanted to know what usernames/passwords they're using, and what they tried when they logged in...

Never thought I'd catch a guy on /. though...

Re:ssh hacks (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213926)

Well, then I did log in to your (or a similar) box with a random password and left a string of insults a couple weeks ago... But I don't understand the choice of dynsdns. If you want to run a ssh honeypot, you could just link to ssh://user:passwd@home.dynsdns.com:22/ and the bots would come running. By the way is there some service that will tell you the most likely typos for a given word ?

Re:ssh hacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188418)

Does a SSH client transmit your actual typed password to the remote server, or does it use a challenge-response system to hash the password based on a challenge received from the server?

(Even if it's the latter, you'd still be susceptible to a man-in-the-middle attack, but at least you wouldn't be giving away your actual password.)

Good for them! (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185038)

At least they're not letting all those typos go to waste!

Google Adwords - a scam i can't live without (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31185042)

I spend about $5,000 per day on adwords for my legitimate business. fair enough. we couldnt live without it and it makes money for us.

HOWEVER

probably about 1/3 of that is blatantly stolen by google. how?

their copy says that they display our ads on RELEVANT sites. it says "relevant."

nevertheless, at leat 1/3 of our ads are shown on sites that couldn't by the wildest definition of the term 'relevant' be considered in any way shape or form to be 'relevant.' i mean, we do,err, engineering-like stuff and our ads go on turkish-language hip-hop sites.

adwords' functionality for us to explicitly flag domains that we don't want is a scam since they artificially limit you to some 1000 domains or whatever it is. we compiled a list of 20,000 blatantly inappropriate domains in the first few months.

so, i'm under no illusions - yes, google does help us, but they are also ruthless bastards. if only we were big enough to sue them, we would, as their use of the word 'relevant' there is nothing short of outright fraud.

If Google pulls out (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185152)

If Googles refuses its advertising services to those domain typo ad park owners, it will only affect Googls's bottom line. The site owners will get some other ad service to serve up ads, and they will keep making money. The only way something like that will work is is every major online advertising service agrees not to serve ads to blacklisted ad sites (blad sites). If the typo squatters had to put in more effort to secure ads from multiple sources, it would make the sites less profitable.

What about the registrar? (3, Interesting)

schlick (73861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185472)

The guy who did the "study" is a douche.

Moore and Edelman started by using common spelling mistakes to create a list of possible typo domains for the 3264 most popular .com websites, as determined by Alexa.com rankings. They estimate that each of the 3264 top sites is targeted by around 280 typo domains.

They then used software to crawl 285,000 of these 900,000-odd sites to determine what revenue the typo domains might be generating.

Why didn't he publish the registrars that provide typo domains? There isn't any question that they profit directly from those typosquaters.

Insignificant figures (1)

0BoDy (739304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185502)

Anybody do the math here? $500m is their GROSS income from these domains when their NET annual profit is more than 1000 time bigger. They're not making any important profit here. That they allow this is probably just a volume-mitigated oversight. If I sell a Widget that breaks for a $1 profit and a company that makes a better, more durable version sells 1 billion of them for $2 more and pays $1.50 more, for them, and makes $100 Billion dollars, I'm pretty sure I'm still the evil one.

34% "bottom feeder" sites in AdWords. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186634)

Our own data, at SiteTruth [sitetruth.net] , indicates that about 34% of Google Content Network advertisers, by domain name, are "bottom feeder" sites which we can't associate with a real-world business. This is disappointing, but not surprising. When you see a Google ad, it's not usually from a Fortune 1000 company, after all.

Our data comes from our AdRater plug-in [sitetruth.com] , which rates the advertiser behind each Google ad as it appears on the user's web page. If someone goes to an ad-heavy typosquatting site, we'll see the domains advertised there. (We don't see the typosquatting domain, though; we don't monitor what pages the user views, just the ad domains. We're interested in advertiser behavior, not use behavior.) We collect the domain names of the advertisers, so we have a sizable fraction of Google's customer list, and this is hard data. We're not extrapolating.

(Collecting Google's customer list is a "long tail" kind of thing. The first 25,000 Google advertisers were seen in the first two months; the next 25,000 showed up over about four months. We'll never see them all, but we've probably seen most of them by now. Google probably has somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 active advertisers, by domain name.)

The numbers indicate that a significant portion of Google's revenue comes from those "bottom feeders". That's why Google can't be very tough on "web spam". They have Matt Cutts claiming that Google tries to stop web spam, but, realistically, they don't try very hard. They can't. It's essential to their business model.

Search Google for "craigslist auto posting tool". [google.com] Not only are there paid ads for software to put ads on Craiglist using phony accounts, some of them use Google Checkout [google.com] , so Google gets a cut of what's basically a fraud scheme. ("Automatic CAPTCHA bypass available with integrated Image-to-Text support!") Google's advertiser validation standards are very low.

Some people make mistakes, other people profit (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31187272)

... a classic and timeless business strategy.

In this case the mistakes are typos, and the profit goes to Google (and others), but the idea isn't all that novel.

Yeah, and ... (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188128)

... states make millions of dollars each year on people who can't do math, i.e., lotteries. Not sure what the point of this article is; are we supposed to hate Google for making money off dumb people?

yu0 fail i7.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31190658)

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