type-in traffic
n. Users who navigate to a website by typing the site's address into their web browsers.
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A colleague reminded me that Marchex, the public company roll up of online advertising plays, recently purchased Name Development, a company that owns a couple hundred thousand URLs. … The price was $165 million.

The business model for Name Development is drop dead simple: they own a bunch of URLs, and when internet users type a word into the address bar (expecting it to resolve to something useful) or misspell a legit URL, often times one of Name Development's URLs comes up as the resolved address. Name Development then sticks a sh*tload of AdSense or Overture links on the resulting page, and voila free money!

This is called the "type in" traffic market, and it apparently is much, much bigger than most folks might think. According to folks I've spoken to, Name Development gets 17-20 mm uniques on its 200,000 domains, and is a profit machine.
—John Battelle, “The 'Type in' PPC play,” John Battelle's Searchblog, December 14, 2005
The secret? It has to do with what's known as type-in traffic, or, in Wall Street jargon, direct navigation. Though it may seem odd in the era of powerful search engines, it turns out that millions of Internet surfers don't use search at all. Instead, they type what they're looking for right into the top of their Web browser.

Looking to buy candy? Type in Candy.com, a name Schwartz bought in May 2002 for $108,000. A page filled with links to candy-related products comes up. Click on one of the ads and the advertiser pays Google, which in turn sends a share to Schwartz and the company that runs Candy.com. Some days Candy.com makes Schwartz $300 in profits; the site paid for itself in a year and a half.
—Paul Sloan, “Masters of Their Domains,” Business 2.0, November 18, 2005
2000 (earliest)
Schwartz hit the mother lode in August 1997 when he sprang for porno.com.

"A guy had just bought it for $5,000 so I offered him $10,000, $15,000, I told him 'Here's $25,000, you can buy a new TransAm.' Finally, we settled on $42,000," Schwartz said. "Today, it gets 25,000 unique visitors every day by way of type-in traffic. I can send those people to any place on this planet I can send them to."
—David Adlerstein, “The king of domains,” South Florida Business Journal, September 22, 2000
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