Advertisers can exclude ads from showing up on parked domains; lower revenue ahead?
Google Adwords has added a new feature that allows advertisers to exclude ads from showing up on domain parking sites. This will affect parked domains on any of Google’s ad feeds, regardless of whether it is the “search” feed or “content” feed. Examples of domain parking companies using Google include DomainSponsor and Sedo.
To opt out of domain parking pages, advertisers use the “Site and Category Exclusion” tool in their account (see picture below). In addition to being able to opt out of parked pages, customers can opt out of error pages, forums, social networking sites, image sharing sites, and video sharing sites. Forums and social networking sites are known to have low click through rates, and conversions can also be low.
Earlier today I wrote about the importance of domain parking companies policing their traffic and suggested that the major ad networks would start letting people opt out of domains. I guess this was all too right.
On its web site, Google states that it has found results from domain parking pages to perform as well as similar types of ads. And its opt out tool lets users see their conversions on each type of page, too (a change from previous transparency). But let’s face it: the idea that domain parking ads convert well doesn’t make sense to many advertisers. Couple that with the amount of fraud, and you can bet that a number of big advertisers will opt-out of domain ads. (Previously, advertisers could opt out of the content network, but many parked pages are in the search network.)
Bottom line: lower results for Google domain parking customers in the short run.
In the long run, if domain parking companies police their traffic, then advertisers will see higher conversions on domain parking. Maybe I’m dreaming, but perhaps Google would let advertisers bid more for domain ads.
We live in interesting times.
This added flexibility is a boon for advertisers on Google. (What’s not to like regarding added flexibility and control over one’s advertising options?)
On the flip side, I can see a large percentage of domain investors that hold marginal names get sucker-punched. No reason to stay in the “parked” game for lousy returns and zero control.
You can imagine the ripple affects across all platforms…
Steve M says
What, no option for domain traffic ONLY?
Now that’d be a nice option.
Also; while new options like these are nice for the sophisticated advertisers and/or those able to afford SEM specialists; because of the continuing expansion in complexity, it only continues to get harder and harder to bring in smaller, local advertisers to the PPC game.
Emil @KING.NET says
Do you think Yahoo will follow this approach as well?
Definitely a night mare to domain investors.
@Emil – you bet. I’ve ready forum posts from several people who have left Yahoo entirely because they can’t opt out of the domain channel.
I am sure this kind of moves are going to affect google itself , guess its time to develop every domain…
Emil @KING.NET says
Thank you for sharing your ideas.
Nice post and very informative.
Keep up the great work
Idiocy. How can you post this crap without checking your facts???
Quote: ‘But let’s face it: the idea that domain parking ads convert well doesn’t make sense to many advertisers.”
“But neither of these is the most valuable kind of Web site visitor. That honor goes to the people who arrive at a site by typing its Web address directly into their browsers or clicking on a bookmark. Such visitors, who tend to be repeat customers, linger the longest, spend the most money, and are the most likely to “convert” to buyers, doing so on 3.3 percent of their visits”
“In fact, it is estimated by several organizations that traffic to “parked” pages drives about 10 percent of the pay-per-click (PPC) ad market. Even more interesting, WebSideStory found that direct navigation had a 4.23 percent conversion-to-sale rate, while search engine clicks on average lead to a 2.3 percent conversion-to-sales rate.”
I should point out that this is for typein traffic on parked pages not traffic coming from search engines.
As Steve M said. Where is the option for domain traffic only. I can assure you this would be a far better option as domain traffic converst better than any other type of traffic.
When people take the time to type something into their browser, it means they are serious and motivated.
When will people wake up?
Im very positive about that. Andrew doesnt dream. It will turn out that good domains will remain the same and advertisers always appreciate traffic coming from topic-interested audience. Wouldnt it be hard to understand that a business drops its own revenue? Transparency will domainers let to grow. Domain tasting does not create trust and should be banned soon.
I do know my facts 🙂
First of all, I pointed out that even if domain ads to convert better than search ads, advertisers can’t understand how this is. It really doesn’t matter if they convert better — if advertisers don’t think they will convert better, they’ll opt out.
Second, both of the research studies you point to have very little to do with domain direct navigation that we typically refer to. They have much more to do with people returning to a site. For example, when I go to Amazon.com I type it in. But I’m going there to buy something, so that’s why I type it in. That’s why it converts so much higher. Even the quote you pull out “Such visitors, who tend to be repeat customers, linger the longest, spend the most money, and are the most likely to “convert” to buyers, doing so on 3.3 percent of their visits” says this.
The web site story study was the same; it even grouped in bookmarks!
Now, I do believe that some direct navigation traffic converts better than search traffic. But pointing to studies that really have nothing to do with typical domainer direct navigation makes it easy for people to dismiss your entire case.
Andrew my beef is with the way the tone of the article reads. However I find your comments incredible in that you choose to focus on the bookmarking part of the study when both forms of navigations are included. Typein as well as bookmark. In fact I would ask you if you can point to one single study that has found to the contrary???
You post: “But let’s face it: the idea that domain parking ads convert well doesn’t make sense to many advertisers.”
Had you written: “It is a shame that many advertisers don’t recognize that direct navigation traffic converts far better than search engine traffic and opting out of parked pages would be a major mistake” I believe it would change the entire tone of your article and make it more accurate.
After all there are (hopefully) going to be advertisers reading this article and you missed an opportunity to educate them.
As a fellow stakeholder in the industry education of the (internet) ignorant masses should always be forefront in your writing.
@ Gordon –
I believe that the majority of the traffic in those studies included bookmarks and type-ins of sites people have visited before (e.g. amazon.com).
I also disagree with the statement that “direct navigation traffic converts far better than search engine traffic”. Some direct navigation traffic converts better than Google, but it really depends.
If you can show me a study that only has to do with parked domains AND shows that the parked domains didn’t include trademark typos, then I might change my mind. The one study I’ve seen that refers strictly to Adsense for Domains has several flaws. I want to see a comprehensive report. I’m going to work with a company here in Austin to try to get them to do it, but we’ll see.
“I believe that the majority of the traffic in those studies included bookmarks and type-ins of sites people have visited before (e.g. amazon.com).”
So if I type in say tools.com and find what I’m looking for and make a purchase. And then typein tools.com the next time I want something and then the time after that??
(I have no association with tools.com)
Somehow this makes the traffic “less” in your mind??
Again I ask you to point to one study that backs up your contention that typin traffic is not highly effective!
You’re obviously not a domain portfolio owner…….
@ Gordon – I don’t quite understand what you’re getting at here. Perhaps it’s what we refer to as direct navigation.
If you go to tools.com and buy something and go back, that’s different from direct navigation search traffic on a parked page, which is what the Google change affects.
There’s a huge difference in the conversion rate of going back to a full web site you bought from before (either by typing in or bookmark) and the conversion rate from someone clicking on a parked domain ad. It’s not comparing apples to apples.
We are guaranteed that conversion is bigger from repeat traffic, so the next question is what is the conversion rate for parked domain traffic compared to search? I haven’t seen much data. Google says it’s “similar”. But I’m not going to refer to a study that has very little do to with parked domains and say it’s proof that parked domains convert.
And yes, I am a domain portfolio owner. But this site isn’t about spinning up the domain industry, it’s about telling it how it is.
The Old Vic says
I suspect that people don’t really know what impact this will have on the parking industry but it will undoubtedly shake things up. For a start there will be a lot less registrations, in the short term at least and a lot of people will not be renewing a lot of names. I would expect also a move towards more developed sites, so bad news for parking companies unless they come up with better-looking parked pages or ready-made developed sites that Google will accept and not de-index. Also, if advertisers realize that parked ads. do convert or that their numbers of visitors have dropped, then there may even be a move back to parked pages over time.
Jeff Zorn says
The W O N D E R F U L thing about Parked pages is that the adds are usually extremely relevant to the domain that is typed in. It makes sense, plus in setting up a parked page, the domain owner goes through great lengths to ensure relevancy, because this equals money to him. In the case of many content rich blogs and developed sights, that may be SEO’d this is not necessarily the case. Arbitrage and click fraud are possibly more rampant in blogs and developed sites because there is no one to monitor the usage.
Parking companies do monitor usage and also ensure relevancy. It will be a loss to those advertisers who choose to opt-out on parked pages, and it will take several months for them to realize it. Some may actually lose most of their business.
Richard Ball says
Andrew – It’s nice to read a post that appreciates the viewpoint of both advertisers and domainers. Most advertisers loathe parked domains. Most domainers seem to think they’re entitled to PPC revenue. Your analysis is spot on.
BTW, if you have an AdWords campaign that’s only opted into the search network, it’s amusing to see the special alert message you get from Google when you go into the new tool, especially when you can see the parked domains data. 😉
I’ve argued for awhile what a separate, domain network is the best option. Clearly, Google believes they have something to hide, though. Otherwise, they’d at least show the individual domains in reports (like the placement performance report). Seems out of character for a company that aspires to “organize the world’s information” eh?
Jeremy Chatfield says
Hi Guys – I’m the analyst for a small agency. We typically block domain parks, in content network usage – using the old site exclusion mechanism, and we are now likely to block domain parks with the new mechanism. Same goes for MySpace, and some other high traffic social networking sites. Why?
Almost every time that I’ve visited a parked domain, checking for clients, I find ridiculous adverts, usually for the highest value clicks – that is, adverts not chosen for the relevance to the domain name, but relevant to the likely return to the domain park holder, should someone click.
You guys sound as though you might produce domain parks that offer thematically relevant adverts – but the overwhelming majority of sites that I’ve seen are low relevance. I have no confidence that any click on these low relevance sites would convert – and that’s borne out by the very low rate of conversions that I’ve measured from these types of site. It’s not just a uneducated knee-jerk reaction, but evidence based measurements.
I do appreciate that it *should* be possible, with adverts targeted to the right theme, on a typed in domain, to support a relevant and motivated traffic stream. I just have no confidence that this happens with a high enough frequency to justify the burden of blood sucking leeches, out to take money from my clients without the return favour of relevant traffic streams.
If I could *positively* identify thematically related domains, I’d probably opt-in. As it is, the only mechanism that I have is to *opt-out* and it is so time consuming to do so, site by site, that I’d prefer to block the whole area – I can’t afford to review every site, and neither can my clients.
I suspect the long and short of the argument is that Google weren’t sufficiently selective about who they recruited to the program. It tarred people with a clue, with the same brush as the Get Rich Quick/never-had-the-plot crew. And they seem to outnumber you, making the whole arena look pretty sleazy.
Sorry to hear of your pain – you lot sound pretty clued up. Shame the rest aren’t 🙂
Jeff Zorn says
Great Analysis Jeremy. I can only speak for my specific domains and how they were optimized using various parking services. Keywords and Metatags were selected to bring relevance. Let’s say NFL tickets. If the parking site allowed custom content, I would create a banner using after affects and flash. I would buy an stock image or video and create a really nice visual page. Picture selection also was key from the parking company. To customize a parked site took from 10 minutes to 5 hours depending on the complexity and the affect I was looking for. The adds were always relevant. I checked periodically to ensure this. My Click Thru Rate averaged about 30% for these customized sites. Actually most parked sites that I visit on the web have relevancy, unless of course they are names like stcf . com or names that really can’t have relevancy.
The dynamics of parked pages have changed during the last 10 years. They may not be perfect, but in many cases they are spot on for relevancy. NFL tickets can be bought through affiliate accounts from google and yahoo, and if they cut the parking services out of the picture, or the advertisers choose not to use parked pages, I foresee two things happening. 1) Product sales will decline, because the search engines will be hitting the same old sites — sites that many buyers don’t like or may have had problems with in the past. Also, the number of sites and options is reduced. 2) What will happen if a person types a relevant name in the browser and it doesn’t resolve because the domain owner has pulled it. Several things will occur, in my area the phone company brings up it’s own parked page…great! the adds aren’t relevant necessarily and I’m sick of seeing this landing page from the phone company telling me basically that what I typed was invalid. Instead, I’m going to the mall, I’ve had it with this computer. Or well, let me try a search engine….I enter the same words on the search engine, and what I get is some paid ads on the top…hmmm I don’t really trust these adds as they have been paid for, hmmmm let me page thru, I click something that seems relevant, but it takes me to a site selling Italian Vacations…how did that happen….oh I see, I’ve been redirected. Anyways, really only time will tell what will happen…
“Hi Guys – I’m the analyst for a small agency. We typically block domain parks, in content network usage ”
Weren’t you the same guys that were selling yyour clients on “EYEBALLS” just a couple of years ago???
“Almost every time that I’ve visited a parked domain, checking for clients, I find ridiculous adverts, usually for the highest value clicks -”
Manure. I run thousands of domains and the ads are usually well targeted. However the problems we have behind the scenes with advertisers targetting inappropriate key words for their products or their general inability to sell their product via the web are far bigger factors.
And just because it seems irrelevent to you on first glance doesn’t mean it isn’t what the customers want. Most of the ppc companies are running extremely sohpisticated software that measures click thru rate response to ad postion, colour etc etc etc. What appears there is what SELLS the surfer.
Jeremy Chatfield says
Eh? Eyeballs? You have confused me with someone else.
I’ve been a strong advocate of measured ROI since starting work on PPC, almost five years ago. I’ve always been focused on getting relevant traffic to sites and converting them with appropriate messages.
You do not know what I’ve seen. So I find the rest of your comment insulting. I have seen, for example, car related domains with adverts for high value mortgages. I have seen domains for music-related stuff with adverts for management consultancy, credit cards and cruises.
These are not thematically related. Someone looking on a domain park for a holiday and responding to an advert for a subprime mortgage has been thrown back to early phases of the buying process. That’s a low conversion rate opportunity. I know. I measure this stuff on the Content Network. I track the bounce rate and dwell times for different sources of leads. I have measured that when a thematically irrelevant source is used, that the conversion rate declines. This is not a knee jerk reaction of some idiot, so your pissy rant is merely offensive.
I’m not the search halfwit you take me for. I use highly refined keywords, targeting with phrase and exact match, and heavy use of negative keywords to obtain maximum measured profit. I fly multiple adverts and tune them to reduce conversion latency.
As I’ve said, and you clearly didn’t get, you guys are mixed up with a bunch of other low-value guys. If I could select your high relevance sites, I would. I can’t, cost effectively do so – because Google hasn’t been selective about the domainers that can join the fun. When it is left to advertisers and agencies to weed out the idiots in your business, the costs are too high to justify any use of the entire area. That isn’t *my* fault. I don’t run Google. You should be pressing Google or better policing your own industry, so it offers a good value to advertisers.
And, BTW, what adverts appear is *NOT* what sells. Google is compensated on clicks, not sales. Most advertisers are sufficiently naive that they assume that clicks are of equal value. So Google gleefully delivers the most expensive clicks, so long as they get paid, they have no problem with advertisers failing to meet ROI. I tune the clicks. I look for the right places to get a click from, so I can boost ROI.
I *measure* effectiveness. I *measure* dwell time on site, and bounce rates. I go back to web server log files. I remove the bots. I categorise sources and user activities. I track through to conversion activities. OK? Are you clear that I do a lot of work to justify what I say?
Most (not all, but *most*) of what I see as domain parks offered by Google are stuffed with high value adverts, not relevant adverts. And the click traffic from those placements has a short dwell, a high bounce and a pitifully small conversion rate. This satisfies Google, but does not satisfy advertisers.
What you guys could do, is to pressure Google to be more selective – Google will take money where it can, so it has very wide tolerance for publishers. As an industry, you guys could police yourselves better which would make you a better channel for advertisers. Google is unlikely to do this for you. They just want the cash for a click.
Great conversation here…Jeremy, thanks for providing your perspective from the advertising side.
I don’t know what’s going on in Firefox that’s messing up the layout of the comments in this post…it’s working fine in Internet Explorer. It’s messed up starting with comment #9 in Firefox…if anyone has any ideas let me know.
Jeremy Chatfield says
@Andrew – no problem. I’d *like* to use good domainers. I’m frustrated that I can’t.
@Jeff Zorn – your technique sounds excellent. If I could use your sites, I probably would, and I’d expect to see a reasonable conversion rates from all that focused activity.
What *other* advertising channels could or do you guys use, and police, so that agencies and advertisers can reach a network of high quality domainers? Can you start one? You’re clearly capable advertisers and site builders…
Quote: “Eh? Eyeballs? You have confused me with someone else.”
I was talking about your industry not you in particular.
Quote”I have seen domains for music-related stuff with adverts for management consultancy, credit cards and cruises.
These are not thematically related. Someone looking on a domain park for a holiday and responding to an advert for a subprime mortgage has been thrown back to early phases of the buying process.” /Quote
How do you think the domain owner feels. In many cases we provide potent traffic in specific niches only to see unrelated ads served BECAUSE everybody in the process above us is after the easy money. Why spend time and $$$ chasing advertisers when you can fill so many webpages and if a few have non-relevant ads too bad!
I’ll give you a specific example. VancouverLawyers.ca (canadian extension) serving up ads for a divorce lawyer in Miami??? Now can you honestly believe that if someone got off their keister and contacted Vancouver Lawyers they couldn’t serve up a page full. Heaven knows the yellow pages has no trouble finding them!!!
And don’t even get me started on the clients themselves. Here’s a typical example. Major used parts dealer here in BC puts everything online. You want a part you can go online and order it. The order is printed out at one of their 10 locations. Where it sits…. and sits…. and sits… till the client comes back and says where’s my ROI.
And so you ask. Do you leave your clients on hold for days at a time. Do you ignore your walk ins and leave them standing….
So often going online is sold to them as a wonderful new source of business without telling them they probably require new infrastructure or in many cases a new corporate attitude towards the business to make it effective.
I have traffic. Highly effective traffic. The problems with ineffective or inappropriate ads or the lack of ROI are the problems of the companies ABOVE us. Not ours.
And I’m sorry you feel I’m pissy but the fact is you’re aiming at the wrong people for the problems you see.
Well, I guest it’s all ok. It’s actually good for the domaining industry – advertisers know which are where. I haven’t seen any impact on my parked domain traffic (could’ve been better though)
As an advertiser as well as domain portfolio owner, it’s interesting to consider both sides of the coin. Some people here are saying how stupid advertisers would be to opt out of the parked channel because of conversion rates.
Well, for real traffic, this may be the case. But unfortunately the overall conversion rate drops significantly when you factor in the bogus clicks that come from parked domains owned by the people that give this industry a bad name. Hell, I’d love to get traffic from specific parked domains, unfortunately I end up with the full lot and the channel becomes inefficient.
I’ve always been baffled by those honest domainers that don’t do more to protect their channel by weeding out the fraudsters and instead resort to painting advertisers as dumb.
The Old Vic says
Andy – that’s a good point, but in what way are parked pages more open to click fraud than websites or blogs ? Surely if people can figure out how to get fraudulent clicks on parked pages they can do the same with their own websites or blogs ? Just a question.
Jeremy Chatfield says
@The Old Vic – absolutely right – so we recommend that most new advertisers opt out of content match until they have nailed how to make keyword search work; then add the content network as new campaigns, and go through the exercise of developing specificity and removing low performing sites/collections of sites. It’s not something that happens out of the box. Making AdWords work is an exercise in repeating optimisations (keyword, negative keywords, adverts, landing pages and site journey) until it works, or you give up in disgust 😉
Parked domains appeared high in my list of bot-clicked adverts (and suspicious browsing patterns, and suspicious IP address ranges – such as open proxies, etc), but so did a lot of blogs and even some types of content site. I even found Google’s own Orkut includes a community of users that visit each others’ blogs to click on the adverts, together with instructions for how to avoid detection as spammy or fraudulent activity.
I even tried to develop an AI tool to diagnose which sites were problems to automatically opt out on first click. Even that is expensive, because the costs of setting up a new AdSense account and site are so low, and the returns so potentially high to the savvy sneak. Selecting high quality sites in Google is non-trivial, and risky. Most advertisers are not equipped or prepared to tackle the mountain – so you guys will get either the under-informed advertiser, and probably will find that the targeted advertiser (the one that you want) has dropped you, in order to avoid the spammy sites.
I hate having to say this – some of you guys clearly work hard, and I’d seriously want to use your effort to help my clients. There’s just no economic way that I can see to do so – look at my article on my blog about “Improving Content Match Automatically” – I and my clients have invested around £85k (US$170k) in investigating how to do it, and not found a nice way to make it work, yet. We continue to block most Content Network and Domain Parks, because the low quality participants swamp the high quality ones.
I blame the “info product” “Get Rich Quick” e-Books/affiliate/”joint venture” industry that detail how to set up spammy Made For AdSense sites, and the programs that autobuild these low quality sites, given some keywords and blogs to reap.
I’ve found most domain parking companies to be very good about weeding out the bot clicks. But then again, I don’t have nearly the data that Jeremy has.
The question is, how can we create a “high quality” domain park channel that benefits both domain owners and advertisers? It’s a shame that a good channel can’t be exploited by both sides for mutual benefit.
@ Andy – the difficulty, I suppose, is finding a way to “scale” the process of picking the good domains. A third party has to do it, and maybe it’s time Google enforces a bit more.
Another irony: I suspect trademark typos convert the best (but I don’t condone them at all).
Jeremy Chatfield says
Google apparently does a good job of weeding out bot clicks and some types of fraud – it is hard to tell, because there is no mechanism for me to mark a click as bad, and verify that Google also identified that specific click. However, a cross correlation of Google’s “Invalid Click Rate” versus our detection, gave an 0.85 to 0.95 correlation – we mostly agree, at least on a volume basis.
Fraudulent click detection is a serious pain. A lot of the click fraud detection services that I looked at in 2006/7, had no idea how to use “gclid”, for example, and those that did had no visible plan to deal with spoofed gclid’s. Again, I have an article on my blog about the use of gclid in fraudulent click detection 🙂
@ Jeremy – have you checked out Click Forensics’ systems yet? Curious for your thoughts.
The Old Vic says
Fascinating stuff – I had no idea it was such a headache, it sounds to me like there’s a whole new industry being born. I’ll be checking out your article. But surely advertising has always had the problem that most peope see the ads. and do nothing so the advertisers are paying over the odds for ads. that most people don’t want to see, for example when the ads. come on TV I systematically switch channel or at the very least turn the sound off (ads. are always louder than the actual programs which is very annoying !) – most ads. are boring and certainly when you’ve seen them 50 times ! Most ads. in newspapers never get read. Junk mail is dumped straight into the dustbin. Wouldn’t it just be easier to reduce the price paid for clicks to a minute amount to take into account the percentage of click fraud ?
The Old Vic says
Jeremy where is your blog ? When I click on your name I just get ‘temporarily unavailable’.
@ Vic – Parked domains have been used a lot as a tool for click fraud because for most it’s the only way to get the search network feed from Yahoo or Google. That feed historically has paid out higher than AdSense or YPN.
@ Jeremy – agreed that click detection is tough to get hand around. I’ve had numerous battles with Yahoo over it and only been succesful a handful of times. I’ve provided consulting services to a number of of click fraud detection companies and I just have a hard time finding a way to make that a successful business model.
@ Andrew – You speak the truth. I don’t know how you could scale it. If could just be on Frank Schilling’s list of domains (I only use his name because it’s well known and because he makes so much money he wouldn’t stand to benefit from click fraud), I’d jump at it.
Many domainers say an efficient market will solve the click fraud problem as advertisers adjust their bids to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, with a lack of transparency and different levels of sophistication and experience among advertisers, this efficiency will never be reached on its own.
Jeremy Chatfield says
@Andy – problem is that Google offers an aggregated market – I can’t select better vendors. The low cost of spamming means that good domainers will find incomes limited by the bleed of advertiser value to the plenitude of garbage sites. *Average* market value of domaining is low – and that’s the crux… But I think all you guys know that, eh?
Yes – click fraud detection is a tough model – I suspect that the main people to sell to would be the minor search engines, domain parks, affiliate aggregators, advert exchanges, and very large digital advertising agencies. The other people to sell to would be the gullible who think that Google cheats – IMO, Google is pretty good about botnet, click ring and other scam detection and rejection – the biggest problem for advertisers is showing adverts on low quality sites and daft searches, arguably a type of “distribution click fraud”. Exactly what we’ve been discussing here, IOW.
If you monitor AdWords closely enough, you can even see the click fraud protection at work. Every so often you’ll see a decrease in impressions and clicks – when the late phase detection has found something dodgy. AdWords UI is part of the billing system – not the raw impression and click rate, but what they think they should bill you for, after removing the duff traffic.
@Andrew: I haven’t looked at click fraud detection companies for over a year, in detail. However, whenever any of them popped in to the the AdWords Help Forum offering “30% detection of fraudulent clicks”, I’ve always offered that if they can help one of my major clients (e.g. at least a six figure per year spend, perhaps a six figure per month spend), I’d ask the advertiser to split the savings 50/50 (nothing to me, with me having checked with my clients that this was a satisfactory model). None of the click fraud detection companies volunteered to try. Not one. If they really could get the 30% detection they claim, then that would be some serious cash, so I consider this a “proof of pointlessness by free market trial” 😉
Sorry if my blog site’s unavailable – it comes up for me, and I’m currently using a pub’s WiFi for access. I’m in a dentists’ surgery, and the nearby pub offers open access – I’m not drinking at this time of day, honest! It should be at http://blog.merjis.com/ and FeedBurner is showing recent hits… s/be available.
Thanks so much for the discussion, guys – it’s nice to correspond with some passionate people who know their stuff 🙂
Jeremy Chatfield says
@The Old Vic: *Search* advertising can be pinpoint. I’ve had adverts with repeated 100% conversion (one impression -> one click -> one sale). When you can get to the blog, check out the article about the buying process, SEO and PPC (article is “SEO vs PPC”). Get the right message to the right person at the right time and it helps to make a sale.
Bad advertisers scattershot adverts everywhere. As an ex-Coka Cola marketeer told me, when I hit my 40’s: “If you, at your age, notice a Coke advert, we’re putting it in the wrong place”. In the same way, precision marketeers choose the keyword, refine with negative keywords and test messages and landing pages to optimise responses from some one who *wants* to see the advert. I usually don’t want to show my clients’ adverts to uninterested people – it destroys the profit margin 🙂
@Jeremy – does that click fraud challenge still stand?
Re: your comments about the problem with my idea about being able to select which parked domains you appear on… Yes, right now you get the whole kit and kaboodle. However, Google already has the feature allowing site selection so this wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for them.
Here’s another way to go about it. Domainers are complaining that they are tired of getting the screw job by Google and Yahoo as they see crack downs and declining revenues. Here is possibly a way to break away from them and monetize the domains in other ways. Something like leasethis.com
Jeremy Chatfield says
@Andy – I’d have to reverify with current managers and clients – there’s been quite a turnover of staff since since I last checked. However, if you spent $1m p.a. and someone offered you $300k back, but took $150k in the first year – wouldn’t that seem attractive? It’s usually an easy pitch, because the paid search managers in larger businesses don’t believe that this level of saving is likely or possible. But if it was, they’d like it 🙂
WRT “leasethis.com” – I don’t see any bar for spammy domainers. While anyone can join, the dilution of value will make this as unattractive as Google. It needs a quality commitment, which means a human review process, not, as it looks like, an automated submission and subscription model?
This model appears to put the burden on advertisers to check each domain. One client that I have, with a $1M per annum spend, got *7* domain conversions from 1 June 2007 to 19 Mar 2008, using AdWords and *not* deselecting domain parks. This is against a total conversion volume in the range of tens of thousands of conversions. Average conversion cost via AdWords offered domain parks of £80, versus a target of around half that.
How much management effort should be assigned to pursuing domain park checks? About a half hour to an hour – barely enough time to sign up, and get a payment system set up. Not enough management time to justify a case to do so? Definitely enough time to read the stats and deselect domain parks…
IMO, leasethis looks more likely to appeal to smaller businesses, and niches, I suspect.
I’ll keep an eye on it, though. Thanks for the reference. Might be handy for some other clients that I have.
I’ve actually done some contingency deals in regards to click fraud recovery before. The problem is that despite the most concrete evidence, you’re still ultimately at the whim of Y or G. They’re judge, jury and executioner here.
I was actually thinking about the leasethis.com concept. If an advertiser were to approach the owner of a category killer domain and exclusively lease it for the direct nav traffic it provides, it would be very easily measurable. Granted I’ve never tried it from either side of the equation, but ultimately it would come down to cost per conversion to determine the effectiveness of the decision and click fraud would play no part.
Richard Ball says
@Gordon, these are examples of the kinds of parked domains driving traffic through the AdWords *search* network:
Do those look like good, solid, generic keyword domains? Umm, no. There’s pure crap on the AdWords search network. I’m not talking about the content network. I’m talking search. The domain names don’t show any keyword search intent.
This is why PPC advertisers are wary of parked domains. Plus, the lack of transparency from PPC providers like Google (and Yahoo) and a lack of granular control makes PPC advertisers want to opt out, entirely. That’s not good for domainers.
@Andrew – let me know if you want more data. I think you’re seeing the same kinds of patterns I’m seeing. In the long run, this is not good for advertisers, domainers or Google. Something has to give – the AdWords opt out is the first step. Not the best solution, though.
I would call those domains crap. I have nothing that would even begin to compare to that. But it appears that everything that goes on (negative) is directed at domains in general rather than specific garbage like that. And by the way as a domain owner I did not choose to allow those into the advertiser stream. Someone registered them but ” WHO” allowed them in???
And while we talk about transparency how about some measurement index of how well an advertiser converts his traffic.
Let’s face it all facets of the industry need to be better organized and better educated as to their individual responsibilities.
This total lack of transparency between the traffic streams and the advertisers response all needs to have the light of day shone on it.
Jeremy Chatfield says
@Gordon – some handwaving stats – tolerably large UK company, nationwide distribution. I’ll “fudge” the numbers a bit, so it isn’t a clear clue who this is, but keep the ratios in proportion. One campaign, repeat conversions measured in tens to hundreds of conversions:
Conversion Target (Conversion Volume): $50 (95%)
Domain Park Conversion (Conversion Volume): $80 (5%)
Because the domain parks perform so poorly, I have less to spend on better performing content match sites. My only available course of action to improve this campaign is to drop domain parks – because I can get overall more conversions from the *other* Content and Search activities.
Obviously, domain parks can perform, and the right ones would perform well – but my control is “all on/all off”. And like this example, my measured choice is too frequently to disable the parks.
Our common cause for concern is Google’s management – they have policies for advertisers, for AdSense publishers – sounds like they should tighten domain park policies and throw out the trash?
Richard Ball says
@Gordon – Yes, the “WHO allowed them in” is a very important question. It’s either Google or DomainSponsor in most of those cases. Either Google is turning a blind eye to these non-search domain names being routed through their search network or DomainSponsor is pulling the wool over Google’s eyes.
I have to blame both Google and DomainSponsor, though. Someone at both companies must know what’s going on. I think more PPC advertisers would complain if they understood the source of this kind of traffic. They don’t, though, because it is routed through URLs with domains like:
which would seem to most people analyzing their traffic to be search engine advertising. No actual searches are taking place. No direct navigation that’s equivalent to a search is taking place.
BTW, I’ve argued on my blog that generic keyword domain advertising could be better than search engine advertising. I’m not bashing domains. I’m frustrated with Google and DomainSponsor/Oversee for perpetrating this distribution fraud. It’s more of a problem than click fraud because Google allows it to flow through it’s search network. This practice also hurts the reputation of honest domainers.
As Jeremy says, if search advertisers had more control over domain advertising through Google, we’d buy more of it. Instead, we’re doing what we can to block it, because there’s more risk than reward when opting into the traffic.
Money Ideas says
I don’t think this will change anything. Domain parking sites usually have their own advertisers.
And by the way, most Adwords users never go to these settings.
We are one of the largest Google contextual network advertisers, and ran over 1.5 billion impressions last year through their network.
The relevance of their parked domain ads is not acceptable, and although there are isolated cases where the parked domain was thematically targeted and therefore showed relevant ads, this was not nearly frequent enough to justify our inclusion of these sites.
Also, we found their nature to be highly transient- nearly 80% of the pages that we saw in our placement reports would disappear by the next reporting period (usually 2 weeks). This does not inspire confidence for an advertiser of our size.
Jeremy Chatfield says
@Dan – thanks. My clients, between them, only have about 150 million content match impressions per annum. Good to know that scaling up by ten still yields similar results. I do wonder whether this non-repeatability is a randomisation, a deliberately obscuring algorithm, or has some virtuous cause such as an effort to improve quality by dropping low performing sites. I haven’t yet found any public statements by Google to explain the behaviour.