Adapting an old idea for the Internet age

I read an interesting article about a small company called OpenDNS. The purpose of their business is to speed up your Internet access by directly connecting you to the actual address of the website you are looking for. Without going into way too much detail, the domain URL that you type into your browser is translated by your ISP to the actual Internet address. If your ISP’s translation software is slow or broken for that particular site, you wait and wait. OpenDNS’s business model consists of speeding that up and allowing you to block certain sites or site types. Pretty cool for parents, companies, etc who want to restrict access to certain sites.

None of that is rocket science or new. What got my attention about the company is something they do if the website you are looking for is no longer “live.” You know when you get that standard error message: “Website cannot be found.” Instead, Open DNS shows you ads (provided by Yahoo) that are targeted at the same or similar “stuff” that the website you were looking for provided. That makes the ads relevant to you and profitable for the advertiser. Win-win-win. (Three wins: you, the advertiser, OpenDNS)

What struck me about this was something that Zane’s Cycles of Branford, CT did many years ago. When one of his competitors went out of business, he made a deal with the phone company to have their call calls forwarded to his number. He continued to pay for the Yellow Pages ad and the forwarding fee, so the phone company made money. People with those Yellow Pages ended up talking to a bike shop that was actually in business instead of getting a recording for one that was no longer in business, and he got new customers. Win-win-win.

OpenDNS has taken an old idea and adapted it to the “modern” world. Gotta love it.


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