AdSense for Domains
Google has begun selling its AdSense for Domains product to US-based publishers. The program — formerly known as Domain Park — enables advertisers to embed ads on "parked domains," — URLs that have been purchased but for which a website hasn't yet been made.
Ads on parked automative-related domains convert at twice the rate as ads on search engines, according to a recent study. (Google backs this up.)
But advertising on dormant domains remains a controversial topic. "Domain tasters," for example, often freeload off the popularity of well-known sites. They purchase misspelled URLs, park ads on them and profit when users click through to the site they really want to visit from a sponsored link.
Critiques about such practices prompted Google to disable ads on parked domain names at trademark owners' request. But more vocal opponents argue the AdSense for Domains program delivers such poor-quality traffic it should be abolished entirely.
Corroborating that, a lawsuit from July argued Google profits from domain tasting swindles, claiming advertisers forced to pay for click-throughs from dormant domains are victims of click fraud. A similar suit was filed in June 2007.
In its defense, Google stated web surfers that stumble upon parked domains will either see a "404 Page Not Found" message or a handful of "putatively relevant" paid links — and the latter is more useful to them.
Google's true motivations behind the launch of AdSense for Domains are anybody's guess, but the company's spent the past quarter attempting to beef up its ad profit margins in conspicuous ways. In a handful of weeks it's run image ads in search results, and slipped text ads on Finance pages, Google News and under Maps.
YouTube has been on the monetization track all year, taking ads everywhere Google sees fit: in videos, on videos, around search results and in the related videos box.
It recently loosened policies on beer advertising. And as of last week, it began permitting the soft marketing of hard liquor in sponsored search.