Direct Navigation: good, bad or ugly?

Direct navigation is seen by some as the seedy underbelly of search marketing designed to capitalize on naïve searchers. Others find it to be an ingenious way to capitalize on unused domains and direct users to relevant content.

In its simplest form, direct navigation is when a company buys a domain name, usually generic in nature, hoping to capture traffic from users who type the name directly into their browser. These domains are then monetized with contextual ads, and usually not much else.

It gets shady when the domain name is misleading, such as those that are close in name to another domain, where the company hopes to capitalize on spelling errors. They’re sometimes called “Built for AdSense” sites, because that’s their main purpose.

Some figures from direct navigation firm Innovation Interactive, based on 3 months of data across 15,000 domains, attempts to shed some light on the behavior of users that visit those sites…and come back again.
* 11.8% of unique users clicked on an ad on the page.
* 30.8% of unique users clicked on multiple ads on one or more of its sites during the quarter.
* Almost 9% of unique users returned to the same site during the quarter.
* Visitors averaged 1.3 pageviews per visit.
* 80% of clicks were on the first five ads, and 90% on the first ten.

What’s your take on direct navigation? Bringing value to consumers by enhancing undeveloped sites? Or preying on non-savvy users and bad spellers, clogging up the Net with useless pages?

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