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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Parked Domain Traffic: Does It Convert?

For years many of us in the advertiser camp have yelled about the fact that vendors like Google AdWords lump domain traffic in with "search" traffic without giving you much control over the situation. A lot of this was justifiable yelling - but as with much about the content networks (and stuff that should be in the content network but was in the past classified as search), today's reality seems to have improved.

Commenters at John Battelle's SearchBlog (he's soliciting info on the domain field because of an upcoming talk he's giving at a gathering called DomainFest) are offering the usual analysis of the domainers cabal, but they haven't brought you up to date about this, Google's newly transparent (in beta) classification of contextual traffic types. Not only will they be allowing advertisers to exclude domain traffic, but maybe more importantly, they're exposing conversion rates on various traffic types at the campaign level.

On anything I've seen so far (again, in beta), the conversion rates on things like parked domains and error pages were not as bad as expected; sometimes, they were better than the account performance as a whole. Why? It must have something to do with aggressive filtering as part of Google's "proactive" stance against fraudulent and suspicious clicks. Whatever -- if the number fits, wear it. The new era of transparency should continue to distance the major online ad providers from the "bad old days."

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