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Oh, zero click, when will you be cleaned up?

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.

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  1. Aron Meystedt says

    9 times out of 10 you get stuck in a labyrinth of which there is no escape either. literally, the escape button doesn’t work (or the back button).
    I AGREE… zero click needs cleaned up.

  2. AdamS says

    I require all my parking companies to take zero click off my domains. First with no control like this it comes off as scummy, second it’s probably going to rile anyone with any potential of a claim. I’m sure Etsy.com isn’t pleased about getting phone calls about the example you just showed. A typical response would be to lash out.

    We did “zero click” back in the day before zero click was a thing, before parking. It was called redirecting to an affiliate lander. It can work quite well but it takes good programs/advertisers and hooking the right names to the right programs for conversions. This way of running zero click is like letting John Zuccarini be in charge of your domains. Remember he was the master of the zero click that we see here. . . . more like click trap.

    I started seeing these from a certain aggregator when I switched to them this year after using a few parking companies for over a decade. In the time period that one parking “aggregator” company was running these zero clicks on my domains it cost me probably $xx,xxx in sales annually (I make mid $XX,XXX on parking annually). The month I switched off the zero click I sold $XX,XXX in names (granted I had BIN prices on them and began listing them on marketplaces), the second month I’m already over the previous month. I receive dozens of inquiries a day from my landing pages that have a banner on the top corner. With zero click, I received pretty much no inquiries.

    The aggregator promised that by rotating parking that I would make more money. I did for a short time but it was only when using THEIR zero click product. Convenient. I demanded it be shut off and my revenue slid 20%. I feel they were trying to play hard ball and make me change it back. . . . Instead I moved.

    In most cases, selling is a much more profitable venture now than parking them. . . except in cases like the example you cited. Those zero click landers probably work great for the typos and “questionable TM” sorts of names because they get boatloads of traffic and they tend to not be monetizable any other way and they’re useless to sell to anyone other than to another domainer who’ll zero click park them too.

  3. Alan Dodd says

    Yes a very bad solution for domainers, your name could end up on some blacklist… there is also the opportunity cost that the “for sale” part oft he lander is lost. There are a few parking companies who never fell for zero click, kudos to them.

  4. Jay says

    I always turn it off as it eliminates sales potential since they just get redirected they never see the sales link. Also bad redirects can tarnish the domain history further decreasing sales potential. Zero click is strictly for domains you don’t wish to sell as can definitely be damaging.

  5. Andrew Allemann says

    My dad called me this weekend. He was on a page on his browser that had completely locked up the browser. Couldn’t exit. Loud voiceover “attention, your computer is infected…call Microsoft security at …” My guess is it was a zero click forward that put him there.

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