Reading this as a domainer I laughed out loud at several passages.. Don't get me wrong, this is basically a positive piece, but it's so couched and cautious in its review of the domain traffic industry and written with such halting hesitation that I couldn't help but chuckle (and blog about it).
Yahoo gets 33% of its traffic/revenues from domain name and arbitrage other syndication traffic (that's an analyst estimate, from a recent discussion) .. In the recent "Efficient Frontier" report on direct navigation Google counts direct navigation traffic from 'adsense for domains' as it's own traffic (not under the banner of 'syndication traffic' as it should be). That subtle difference would dramatically increase the amount of traffic coming from domain names to Google.. The last figure I have from a Google insider (which is now 2.5 years old) is that more than 5 million unique visits a day come in through Google's adsense for domain channel. I don't believe that astonishingly large number of unique visitors included Google's monster partners "Domain Sponsor" or "Sedo" which would add even more domain traffic to the mix.
This isn't a bad thing of course. Domain name traffic is of very high quality. There is nothing to feel sheepish about or apologize for. The dirty secret is that trademark traffic converts into sales even better than generic traffic.. why wouldn't it? Users have qualified themselves by naming the brand they seek, serve relevant ads and *poof*, you sell something! That's not to encourage domainers to pursue the tack of targeting trademarks. It's just to correct the fallacy that the traffic generated by these typo domain names is somehow of lower quality or repleat with fraudulent, lower conversions. On the contrary, this traffic's quality is incredibly high.
Domain name traffic in general is like the crazy aunt in the basement spinning straw into gold.. Nobody wants to talk about her too loudly. It's a work-horse providing non-trivial revenue and underpinning the stock prices of Google and Yahoo. Without this traffic, tens of billions in market cap would vanish from Google and Billions more from Yahoo. Perhaps even a 50 Billion from Google if all URL intent traffic was taken away.
The surprising thing reading this Search Engine Land report is the disconnect in logic - this idea that Internet traffic is somehow 'magically' created in the search engines and that everyone dutifully opens their browser using Google to perform searches and navigation. Nobody ventures outside the searchbox in "Search Engine Land". Reading this one can only assume that 'Search Engine Land' is located next to 'Fairy Rainbow Country', around the corner from the 'Palace of Unicorns and Make-Believe'. :))
Perhaps one day I will visit 'Search Engine Land' (the website) and read a less cautious piece that accurately portrays the domain name traffic industry and gives it much deserved respect. But not today.