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Friday, July 18, 2008

Google Sued Over Parked Domains Ads, one of those ads-only websites potentially profiting through Google.

Google pays domain parkers by allowing them to run a special AdSense program. Titled “Google AdSense for domains”, this program now reportedly triggered a class-action lawsuit which alleges “that Google committed fraud, business code violations, and unjust enrichment by selling ads that were unlikely to generate conversions”. As Information Week continues to write:

According to the complaint, the “Levitte International” online ad campaign ran from June 1, 2007, through August 18, 2007, and received 202,528 impressions from parked domain pages – placeholder Web pages with auto-generated links related to a pre-determined search keyword or the hosting domain name. (...)

Despite Google’s semantic technology, the complaint states that the ads Levitte placed just didn’t work. Out of the 202,528 impressions* on parked domain pages, Levitte got 668 clicks and zero conversions.

Levitte’s ads also appeared on error pages, through Google’s AdSense for Errors program. With 1,009 impressions, 25 clicks and zero conversions, he had little to show for it.

A commenter named MrWells on Digg writes, “As an advertising company, Google should absolutely be liable for BS ad placement.” Someone else nicknamed KjcDude remarks “I can’t see [Google] loosing this one. The guy really has no ground to stand on.”

Whatever the outcome of this particular case, I think Google’s parked domain ads program is one of the more shady neighborhoods the company got themselves into. On the one hand Google is very careful when considering to add advertisement to some of their services (like ad-free Google News), and their web counterspam team is trying to tell people to add value to webpages... and on the other hand Google themselves profit from and support zero-value pages by domain brokers who occupy large parts of the domain names space.

[Hat tip to Yusef R. and Digg!]

*Well, you don’t pay for views (not directly anyway, though indirectly, lowered click-through rates in at least search results may in some cases drive up the minimum pricing necessary for the ad to show in high positions).


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