Domain Parking and the Granny Goto

The primary reason the domain parking market is attracting investors is because of cash flows, but underlying that interesting is widespread dissemination of a single, head-spinning stat: 15% of people navigate via guessing a domain name — oooh, I think Paul’s “Infectious Greed” must be at www.infectiousgreed.com (it isn’t).

Call it the Granny Goto. No sensible person who had been around the Net for some time  would ever imagine that they could simply guess a correct URL. Even the White House site is tricky if you forget the .gov and go for .com. Non-grannies navigate to new and existing sites via bookmarks, links and search engines (usually Google).

So here is the trouble with preying on Granny Goto advocates. While it works today, it’s predicated on ignorance and crummy technology. Both change quickly over time.

Ignorance changes as prior generations of naive sorts either learn to navigate the web, or, frankly, pass on. Crummy technology also changes, as that 15% of direct nav sorts aren’t exactly finding the experience pleasurable. Me-thinks they would happily use a browser that incorporated search and high-speed lookups to auto-suggest from the address bar (“Do you mean “White House”?).

The upshot. The current ardor for investing in vanilla domain parking looks short-lived to me. For sure there are many opportunities in related areas, and people will make good money from domain parking for a good while yet, but chasing solely after the Granny Goto strikes me as awry.

Related posts:

  1. Whooo, We Have a Domain on That Internet Thing!
  2. Rethinking Domain Names
  3. What if the Cost of Domain Registration was Zero?
  4. Domain Name Availability by Length
  5. Playing the Domain Name Game with Yun Ye

Comments

  1. Brad says:

    I think these investors are not trying to capture the traffic generated by this 15%, but instead are looking forward by viewing domain names as online real-estate. In 15-20 years time it will be very difficult to register a domain that remotely resembles a dictionary words. It is a relatively cheap bet to place at this stage of the internets maturity.

  2. John says:

    Institutionalized cookie stuffing funded by the great Google brand.
    There is at least one company, Communicate.com, that is trying to transition from being a domain name leech to becoming a true e-commerce player.

  3. Avi Bryant says:

    In fact, I’ve seen many non-grannies swing to the other extreme: there are several people I know who understand Google better than they understand DNS, and will happily and consistently type a domain name they’ve memorized into the search box rather than the location bar. For them, a URL is just a highly targeted keyword…

  4. Avi — Yup, I’m there with the non-grannies, having swung all the way to Google-centric DNS. Typing a domain fragment into a search box, even for a well-known domain, is just plain faster.
    By the way, nicely put: “a URL is just a highly targeted keyword”.

  5. John K says:

    Paul,
    The comment by Avi is right on. For legions of dial up users, their ISP start screen contains a type-in that goes to a search engine. They might not even see the browser URL bar at all. That’s why stuff like “google.com” is always one of the top things searched for.
    As for domain names, I wish I hadn’t rationalized away the tempation to buy more domains back in ’96 when single word names were relatively easy to get… :(

  6. mike says:

    interesting comment Brad, but kinda’ old-school thinking. As others have noted re: Google, there are lots of ways to marginalize the value of URLs, from things as mundane as browser “favorites” and histories, all the way to new TLDs (which I think will eventually happen).
    I’ll give you 5:1 that URLs are barely relevant in 10 years.

  7. Domain Junkie says:

    Is direct navigation important?
    Are domain names important?
    Is domain parking a legitimate business?
    Is there value in domains?
    Some pretty legitimate businesses SEE value where you do not.
    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=fe011646-a528-4f14-bcb3-3a97660cd7eb&k=52598

  8. Doug says:

    Your failure to recognize the inherent value of domain names in 1996 does not appear to have been cured with the passage of time.
    Not registering “infectiousgreed” was a move that will cost you visitors and mindshare.
    Stating that direct navigation is predicated on ignorance and crummy technology clearly demonstrates you lack of understanding of the phenomenon and has provided others with the opportunity to become rich; leaving guys like you pontificate about things they do not understand and lament their own “failure” to act when the time was right to do so.

  9. mike says:

    yes, of course you’re right.
    when incredibly agile and foward thinking companies like the canadian yellow pages come to realize, 20+ years after they first appeared, that commercial domains are a valuable commodity, it’s a clear indication that they are about to hit the big time.

  10. Brad says:

    From my experience, direct navigation is a myth. Does anyone actually have some real stats they can provide from the hits received through domain names they own?
    I own http://www.golfclubs.com.au which you would think, would be a great source of direct navigation by people looking for golf clubs. Not even 1% of hits come this way….

  11. Granny Gotos are for carpet bagger type Internet entrepreneurs, that I call ‘scavenger squatters’
    - David Jemeyson

  12. Ed Gunther says:

    I typed in infectiousgreed.com when I was too lazy to search. At first, I thought I spelled it wrong. Lesson relearned…
    Ed Gunther

  13. Gordon Mohr says:

    If next-generation browsers knock that 15% bumbling-typing-navigation down to 1%… do the domain hoarders then sue Google, MSFT, et al for having ruined “their” “real estate” using browser/search market power?

  14. Tom Foremski says:

    urls are bookmarks for your mind – I have the dotcom :-)