People who place ads through AdWords or Microsoft adCenter typically do so primarily because they want the chance to bring someone who has typed a relevant search query into Google, Yahoo or Bing to their website. What is not so well known is that roughly half of the money that is spent on AdWords or adCenter goes for clicks on ads that do not appear on search results pages, but instead appear on other websites.
AdWords and adCenter show ads on these non-search websites by default unless this feature is manually disabled. This approach, known as Contextual PPC, provides many more opportunities for ads to be seen and clicked than if they just appeared on search results pages, so it drives substantial revenue for Google and Microsoft, gives advertisers greater exposure, and helps website publishers monetize their content.
Savvy advertisers have known for years that managing profitable PPC campaigns takes experience, attention to detail and a lot of work. This is true whether your ads appear on search results or contextual sites or both. Note that contextual PPC is not necessarily bad. Indeed, it provides an avenue for industry and demographic targeting that search PPC cannot match, so it can be more profitable than search in some situations. However, it opens the door to many ways for click budgets to be wasted.
Parked Domains are one of those ways and are perhaps the most obvious. This list of Frequently Asked Questions is designed to help you understand the problem of Parked Domains and what to do about them.
Parked Domain FAQ
What is a Parked Domain?
A Parked Domain is a registered domain name that does not have an actual website associated with it.
What do you see when you visit a Parked Domain?
Years ago, you’d typically see a notice that the site was “under construction” or that the domain name was already reserved. You might see a notice that the domain name was for sale. Today, most Parked Domains show PPC ads and little else.
Who places PPC ads on Parked Domains?
Some companies buy thousands of domain names in the hope of someday selling them for a profit. While they are waiting for sales, they try to monetize those properties by enabling the placement of PPC ads on them. Individuals often buy domains with the intent to put up a site, but while the domain is in “limbo” the domain name registrar will typically plaster the site with ads.
Why are Parked Domains a problem for PPC advertisers?
In general, people land on Parked Domains by accident, for example, by misspelling a legitimate domain name. Sometimes, they will click on an ad just to try to get off the site quickly. As a result, most clicks from Parked Domains are a waste of money. We have found that advertisers whose ads appear on Parked Domains are almost always making other mistakes as well – mistakes that cost them money.
Why do Google and Microsoft allow PPC ads to appear on Parked Domains?
They get paid for every click.
How many Parked Domains are there?
Can I prevent my ads from appearing on Parked Domains by disabling the Display Network (AdWords) or Content Network (adCenter)?
Not entirely. While that used to work, many savvy domain parkers have implemented a search box on the pages of their parked domains. Typing a keyword into the search box displays additional ads triggered by that search query. Typically, if a parked domain has a search box, it is classified as a Search Network partner, not a Display Network or Content Network site. So disabling Parked Domains does not block your ads from appearing on Parked Domains that have a Search box.
Does disabling both Content/Display and Search Network prevent my ads from showing on Parked Domains?
If you do it properly, then yes, but you’re also giving up all of the exposure of free ad impressions and the opportunity to purchase high-value clicks outside of Search.
How do I disable my ads from showing on networks that include Parked Domains?
Obviously, you need to be able to log in to your AdWords or adCenter account. Disabling Parked Domains is done in Campaign Settings in AdWords and in Ad Group Settings in adCenter. However, be careful, the language is confusing, especially on adCenter. You should read our blog post called How To Avoid the Microsoft AdCenter Parked Domain Landmine to see examples of parked domain sites and to get step-by-step instructions.
What if I need help?
Contact us to discuss your situation. We manage hundreds of thousands of dollars in Pay-per-Click advertising per month on behalf of our clients. We’ve been eliminating fraud and abuse in PPC campaigns for years, and we can help you significantly improve the efficiency of your PPC campaigns too. We’re typically available Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm Eastern Time at the number / email below. Or simply submit the form located here (no cost or obligation) and we’ll get in touch with you.
Phone: 978-482-0131 (Direct)