Check Your Typosquatting Numbers...



Last week, EVERYDATA highlighted some costly typos thanks to Mental Floss.  We also teased this article that talks about research that estimates Google Ad revenues of over $497 million per year on mistyped websites.  What caught our eye was the phrase "with some back of the envelope math" before the cost estimates.

We took a look at the original and as best we can tell, yet to be published, research article.   The article actually focuses far more on the technical aspects of "typosquatting" and runs a series of statistical analyses on factors that make it more likely someone mistypes a web domain.   

The estimate of $497 million per year, though, is not in the working paper.  It is actually found in a separate web appendix found here.  There, we can see the assumptions underlying the calculation:

First, the calculation assumes a constant 3.5 cents of revenue per Google search.  If that is not accurate, or varies widely by search, that would influence the estimate.

Second, there is no publicly available information on Google domain parking fees, so the author's assume for the calculation that is comparable to Google search prices.  Again, if that base assumption is wrong, the estimate is likely off.

Third, the calculation assumes that the results they generate from the top 3264 sites can be extrapolated to the top 100,000 sites.  Ask yourself the question--does it make sense that the frequency of typosquatting on the most popular websites occurs at the same rates as the 100,000 most popular website?

All of this interested triggered because of the phrase "back of the envelope math."