Sneaky ways to make money part 27: steal search traffic

Say you make consumer broadband routers and you’re looking for a new revenue stream. Your customers expect you to spend money upgrading the firmware for their routers, but you’ve already taken money from them… they’ve paid already.

Don’t despair, there definitely are ways to squeeze more money out of your unsuspecting clients. For example: in your next router firmware update add a new feature that directs all mis-typed URLs to your own search page. Bingo! You get a brand new pipeline of money from all those paid search results and your customers will never know what hit them. Heck, they’ll probably think it’s spyware on their computers and spend a bunch of time trying to track down the bad bits and never even blame you!


Some tips:

  1. Call it an “advanced” feature – Novice users will never touch anything labeled advanced for fear that they’ll break something important. You can rest easy knowing that you’ll be able to keep raking in the revenue for years to come.
  2. Turn in on by default in your next upgrade – People can’t turn off something they don’t know is there. And how are they going to know it’s there? Dig through all the menus to see what’s changed? I don’t think so. They’re not going to find it in the printed manual you gave them either… because you don’t give out printed manuals anymore.
  3. Throw in some security language – Who doesn’t want Anti-Phishing features? Protection from identity thieves?  Of course people want that, the net is a scary place and if you turn off security on your router pedophiles will move into your basement, eat your last Oreo and leave the lid off the toothpaste.

One final tip: don’t name your search site “”, it will shorten the time it takes for your customers to figure out that it’s D-Link who is being a dick and stealing traffic. If you make it too easy for them to figure out who’s stealing the traffic, but hard for them to figure out how to turn them off they’ll get pissed off and make blog posts telling their friends not to buy your hardware (yes, I’m looking at you, D-Link).

But, hey, no big deal, right? They’ve already paid money for your router. Once you’ve made the sale the existing customers are just a drag on your revenue. You can make it up in volume.

One reply on “Sneaky ways to make money part 27: steal search traffic”

The same thing happened to me and on top of it that addition of this "Feature" actually led to a memory leak in the d-link firmware which required you to hard reboot your router every three days. That bug didn’t get fixed for 7 months. Pathetic.

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