Zero click traffic may lead to scam and installer sites.
“Zero click” monetization for parked domains, in which domain traffic is forwarded to another site rather than landing on a page full of ads, is nothing new in the domain name industry.
In recent years, though, more parking companies have integrated with zero click providers in order to compensate for falling revenues from Google ads.
Many domain owners are probably not aware that some of their traffic is being sent to other sites rather than a lander. This could be problematic.
Domain consultant Joseph Peterson, who also writes expired domain reports for Domain Name Wire, recently pointed out a couple instances of zero click forwarding in which the resulting website included a scam or misleading site.
One domain name rotated traffic between a Sedo parking page, a couple legitimate sites, and at least two scam or misleading sites.
For example, on a couple visits to this domain, I was forwarded to windowslivehelpdesk.com, which provides a fake warning that I might not have malware protection and this alert:
This is almost certainly a phony Microsoft tech support scams. I called the number on the screen and the person told me they’d need to take control of my computer to find out what’s wrong, and that I should start by going to LMI1.com. (That forwards to LogMeInRescue.com, a legitimate site used for remote computer access.)
Other times, I was forwarded through multiple URLs to a lander designed to mimic the Adobe Flash download site. My browser popped up an alert that my Flash player might be out of date.
The fine print at the bottom of the page reads:
Flash Player Pro is distributing custom installers which are different from the originally available distribution. These new installers comply with the original software manufacturers’ policies and terms & conditions. Our Installer is an install manager, which manages the installation of your chosen software. In addition to managing your download and installation, Our Installer will offer free popular software that you may be interested in. Additional software may include toolbars, browser add-ons, game applications, anti-virus applications, and other types of applications. You are not required to install any additional software to complete your installation of your selected software. You can always completely remove the programs at any time in Windows’ Add/Remove Programs.
Obviously, having a domain resolve to a page like this can damage the value of your domain name or be used against you in a UDRP.
I reached out to Sedo about this particular case and asked what the company does to ensure that traffic sent to zero click landers resolves to pages that don’t promote scams, malware, installers, etc.
The company responded, “Our advertising providers must commit to deliver quality content. This kind of internet scams are not tolerated. We will contact the advertisers and ask them to remove the ads from our traffic right away. This is not acceptable.” (The zero click ads have since been removed.)
Other parking companies also use zero click. I reviewed a handful of domains forwarding to sites that included scams, but was unable to tie them back to a particular parking company.
Zero click can be a good revenue-earner for sites that don’t perform well on standard parking pages. But domain owners and domain parking companies need to monitor where the traffic is sent in order to avoid this type of problem.
If you don’t make much money from parking and/or use parking purely as a domain sales tool, it might be wise to select a platform that doesn’t use zero click or lets you turn it off. Sedo, for example, lets customers opt-out of zero click by emailing a request to support.