Typos and Long-Tail Economics


Recently, circumstances required a thorough auditing of one of the Persian-language social programs that I work on. The focus of the investigation was improving outreach strategy and advertising, which is a formidable problem in light of American sanctions. Although it’s illegal for ad networks to target Iran, a little guile can get one places.

Overlooked in the past, we were interested in how we can target pages within Google’s content network that are popular in Iran. Looking at affiliates AdWords automatically had chosen during past campaigns, we were surprised to find that 15 out of the top 20 referring sites were landing pages for typo’ed domains (bbcpercian.com, iransel.ir, persianblog.com). Not only were people clicking, they were registering at better-than-average CPA rates!

For a domain reseller, the most efficient profit engines might not be the most popular sites, but those with a substantial audience of non-native language speakers. It’s the long-tail of cybersquatting.