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Just Ask Flickr About Direct Navigation on the Internet

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Domain Names, Marketing

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

I have previously attempted to sound the alarm about why companies should be concerned about direct navigation on the Internet (here here here and here), but I learned this week from The FairWinds Blog that not only does Yahoo! Inc. (operator of the photo sharing website Flickr and owner of the FLICKR registered trademark and brand) not own the domain name at flicker.com, but the owner of that domain, Ashantiplc Limited out of Hong Kong, uses the website (which has been registered since 1998) simply to publicize its own traffic statistics.

Ashanti claims that flicker.com receives 3.6 million unique visits each year, more than ninety-five percent of which come from type-in traffic, i.e., users who directly navigate to the site by literally typing “www.flicker.com” in the address bar of a browser window.  (This site suggests that it is currently more like one million a year, and Compete.com suggests that it has been somewhere between 600k and 700k over the past year.  Good article here about verifying domain traffic stats.)

Anybody know the going rate for even 600,000 annual impressions?

A commonly heard objection is, “well people looking for Flickr will get there eventually anyway.”  Perhaps.  But if you owned a brick and mortar store, and knew that a significant number of your customers consistently took a confusing wrong turn in driving to your store, wouldn’t you eventually try to warn them or put up a sign in a strategic location to help them out?  Why should it be any different on the Internet?

  • I don’t actually know of any brick-and-mortar stores that go out of their way to own, or at least have signs on, every piece of real estate that has an address that vaguely resembles theirs. If the “real world” did what the IP crowd advocates with regard to domain names, then a store at “3 Main St., Southville” would feel compelled to own lots on “Tremaine St.”, “South Main St., Threeville”, “33 Main St.” “3 Maine St.”, and lots of other variants.

  • Paul Keating

    I do not see how your comment is based on any form of logic You say that Direct Navigation is bad. However, your “evidence” is that Flickr does not own Flicker.com. Are you suggesting that the folks at flicker.com are doing something wrong? Sounds more like flickr should have been better at planning their business model and branding. They went after a ‘cute’ typo and you complain that they are harmed by someone who has the correctly spelled word.