Google Adwords placement reports are purposely vague about ads on parked domain names, but why?
I just finished reviewing a Google Adwords “placement” report. This new report was introduced a few months ago to let advertisers see which pages their contextually targeted ads are showing up on and how they are performing. It can be very helpful. For each site your ad is placed on you can see the number of impressions, clicks, and cost. If you have conversion tracking enabled you can even see your cost per conversion. If a web site showing your ads is performing poorly you can disable it. (You’d be surprised at which sites perform best — some of the most unattractive sites result in the most conversions!)
But one thing puzzles me about this report. Instead of showing which parked domains your ads show up on, Google lumps them together in a category called “Domain Ads” (see graphic below).
There’s no transparency for parked domains. I use a separate program that tracks clicks in greater detail and shows me which parked domains my clicks and conversions come from. It lets me see which parked domains are actually generating traffic.
Why does Google hide this information? After all, Google authorized a case study showing how well parked domains convert. Although I have questions about the case study, I believe parked domains do convert well. Using my stats program I can see that some of the parked domains do result in conversions. Another reason I think these ads perform well is my experience with the Roar advertising network from Fabulous. I receive good conversions on this network, which I always assumed placed ads on domains parked at Fabulous. But I recently found out these Roar ads show up on pop-ups from Fabulous sites. If a click on a pop-up from a parked site converts well, then certainly a click on the main parked page converts well!
(There are parked domains that peform poorly, however. Based on my stats these are likely fraudulant sites. Consider a domain like some-parked-domain.com with multiple hyphens. When I research these parked domains and see no site history and no incoming links, I have to assume the clicks I’m getting from it are fraudulant. Also, many of the sites in Google’s search network are even worse. I find it hard to believe that dexsearch.com has the search volume its clicks would indicate. Since Dexsearch.com doesn’t show up in my content listings report, it must be in the search network.)
That drives me to one plausible reason why the individual domains are not being shown. The reason Google doesn’t break out the domain ads is to prevent people from seeing the typo and trademark domains their ads are showing up on. Imagine the look on an advertiser’s face when they see their advertising dollars being paid out to a typo of their domain. (Not that this is a bad use of advertising money, mind you…but that’s a different story.)
With Google promisng to allow an opt-out of domai ads, the domain industry needs this transparency. Those of use with good quality domains will be rewarded; bottom feeders who are gaming the system will be cut out.