Misleading landers and scams run rampant in zero-click programs.
The concept of zero-click domain name parking makes a lot of sense. Rather than sending a domain visitor to a pay-per-click page where they must make two clicks to generate revenue, zero-click forwards unused domain names to other destinations and collects a fee from the advertiser.
For example, instead of a sports domain name leading to a lander with sports keywords, it might forward directly to The Sports Authority’s website.
In practice, many parking companies use zero-click to augment standard pay-per-click when they believe it will monetize better. The problem is that, despite all of their claims, zero-click companies appear to suck at weeding out scam and spam destinations in their networks.
Part of the problem is that zero-click tends to bounce between several domain names before landing on the final destination. So a bad actor might get their URL approved as an advertiser, but then redirect the destination page to another page that wouldn’t be approved.
I came across another example today. The domain name Esty.com was hit with a UDRP. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is the homemade goods marketplace Etsy filed the complaint.
When I visited the domain name the first time, I was bounced between a few URLs and ended up at arp.bettersearchtools.com. The page looked like this:
This page looks a lot like the pages CloudFlare shows to prevent DDoS attacks. But look closely and you’ll see that it’s quite misleading. There’s a small disclaimer to “continue and accept offer”. The small print below the button says “By clicking the button above and installing the extension…”
In other words, it’s tricking users into clicking “I’m human” to continue to the site they were seeking, but they’ll end up installing a Chrome extension.
Zero-click companies need to figure out how to stop this or the whole business model should be shuttered. A day of reckoning is coming.