Opt Out of ISP Landing Pages


Subscribe to Elliot's BlogHave you ever typed in a domain name, and when the name doesn’t resolve, you land on a landing page provided “courteously” by your ISP? In my case, Road Runner graciously provides a landing page with Sponsored Results and Web Results for the sites I type in that don’t resolve. If I click on a Sponsored Result, they (and Yahoo) get paid by the advertiser.
That said, if I accidentally type in MircosoftWidnows.com in my browser, Time Warner Cable, the parent company of Road Runner, would get paid if I click on the Sponsored advertisement that says “Low Prices on Microsoft Windows XP Save Now on All Windows XP Software. $1.99 Same Day Shipping, Buy Now. www.TigerDirect.com.”
Anyhow, I was looking at the error page today, and I saw a link for “Why Am I Here” referring to the landing page. When I clicked on that, I received this message:

“Why am I here?
You entered an unknown web address that was used to present site suggestions that you may find useful. Clicking any of these suggestions provides you with search results, which may include relevant sponsored links.
If this service is not right for you, please visit your Preferences page to opt out. At any point in time, you can opt back in to the service by visiting your Preferences page.
If you have other questions about this service, please visit our FAQ.
For further assistance, please go to http://help.rr.com. “

This service is definitely not right for me, and I opted out of it. Also, I found out they offer a Typo Correction Service.” According to the note on the Preference Page, “This preference allows you to opt in or out of the Typo Correction Service. This service will automatically fix many common typos in web addresses (for example: ww to www and .cmo to .com). If you enter a non-existent web address, and this service is able to typo-correct your domain to a valid web address, you will be taken there automatically.
Thanks, but no thanks!


  1. Yes…..almost all ISP’s are now doing this. I have to opt out all the time b/c every time I clear my cookies I lose the settings and I am reset to their default page full of ads.

  2. FYI, to make this go away and completely bypass their opt-out cookies crap, change your router DNS to the Level3 servers at 4.2.2.x where x is 1-6. They’re public and generally very fast in the U.S.
    OpenDNS is another option but using the Level 3 IPs are the most transparent.

  3. OK Elliot and Skip,
    Help me understand the big picture here.
    So, as the general public will not understand how to
    make the changes Skip suggests, The general public
    will “default” to the dotcom if a similar TLD typo
    is typed-in when the intention was a dotcom.
    So, does that mean the dotcom domain name has even
    MORE VALUE based on the general public typo type-in
    Defaulting to the dotcom???
    Ed – Michigan

  4. Ed, at the core it’s a version of typosquatting. Except every variation is covered and there is no domain registration cost involved for the ISP.
    In Elliot’s example “MircosoftWidnows.com”, your computer will contact your ISP’s DNS server to get the IP address. When it fails (i.e. the site doesn’t exist), they feed a page containing suggestions and advertising links. So they didn’t register the domain MircosoftWidnows.com, they simply catch any domain that doesn’t resolve and try to profit from it.
    It doesn’t really add value to the actual MicrosoftWindows.com domain since that’s where the user was trying to go anyway. But it may cost Microsoft if their link is in the advertising results.
    Regarding the difficulty of changing the DNS settings, most people use routers these days instead of connecting their system directly to the DSL or cable modem. The change is very simple to do in the administrator screen of every router as well as in Windows/Linux for those who connect directly. You’re right in the sense that the concept is probably above the average Joe’s head but the actual change is easy to do.
    Lastly, this is going to be a big deal in the future. Google the terms BT and Phorm to see what’s in store.

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