Sree's Stories


Monday, February 2, 1998
Pg. D5
Updates/Media and Technology

For a Bank in Latvia, Typos Spell Opportunity

By Sreenath Sreenivasan

All the recent attention being paid to Matt Drudge, publisher of the
Drudge Report, an on-line gossip sheet, has meant that his Web site
(www.drudgereport.com) has become one of the most popular information
destinations on the Internet, often making it difficult to get on to the
site.

But if users seeking the latest gossip on Monica Lewinsky, the White
intern, and her tape-recorded confidences about President Clinton, type
the Web address as drudge-report.com (note the hyphen) or drugereport.com
(note the missing letter "d"), they will end up in a site that has little
to do with Mr. Drudge or Washington. They will be transported to the
cyberhome of a bank in the Baltic nation of Latvia, which is capitalizing
on Mr. Drudge's notoriety to drive Web traffic its way.

Paritate Bank, which is based in the city of Riga, and bills itself as
an offshore, on-line bank, uses the Internet aggressively to draw new
business. Not satisfied with the usual tools of the trade -- banner ad
placements, link exchange programs and search engine registrations -- the
six-year-old bank has registered a variety of domain names.

In addition to the obvious addresses, like www.paritate.lv and
www.paritate.com, it has laid claim to www.anonymousbanking.com and
www.offshore-account.com. The bank has also registered dozens of marquee
brand names, or variations thereof. The variations run the gamut from
businessweekonline.com to bloombergs.com, ny-time.com and
warnerbrother.com.

Most of these sites have been registered since the beginning of this
year, with the help of a company based in Dublin named Martinside
Marketing.

"We believe these sites help drive general traffic to our site, and
even if a visitor was not looking for bank facilities in Latvia, he might
remember us and come back," said Alexander Ruchkovsky, Internet project
manager for Paritate, who estimated that 30 percent of new accounts come
through the bank's Web site.

In the freewheeling world of the Internet, playing fast and loose with
domain names is nothing new. As a result, many giant corporations register
variations on their names.

Larry Chase, publisher of Web Digest for Marketers (www.wdfm.com),
thinks Paritate's tactics are a waste of time. "What are the chances
someone interested in Matt Drudge is also looking for an offshore bank in
Latvia?" he asked.

For his part, Mr. Drudge considers the Latvian bank's use of his name
in its site bizarre. "Perhaps they know something I don't about my
popularity," he said.