Domain Parking – In the early days of the domain name industry parking was king – you would be assured of at least earning your renewal fees with most reasonable domains, and making a small fortune with great domains.
What we are referring to as ‘parking’ is pay per click (PPC) advertising, where numerous advertising links are displayed on a page which resolves from a domain name. PPC advertising is still offered through companies such as Sedo (we are not referring to Google’s Adsense program).
Domain parking was once a lucrative way to monetise domain names, but it is all but dead. Empirical evidence suggests that most people parking domain names are only earning a fraction of what they used to in the ‘old days’.
Why do domain investors still utilise parking ?
The most common response is ‘to make a few bucks, and advertise a domain name for sale’. The first part of that statement is questionable – but the argument is much stronger when the main aim is to potentially sell the domain to visitors of your domain name. There are investors out there who still make money from optimised parking pages, but they are in the minority.
For sale banners are still an effective way to sell domain names, this is arguably the biggest driver for use of parking pages.
What are the risks ?
The risks of domain parking are greater than one may think. The greatest risks are:
- in the case of .au domains, auDA complaints;
- legal risk;
We recently saw a case where the owner of a parked domain name lost it on the basis that their use of a parking page, with a for sale banner, did not amount to bona fide use, and that the particular use amounted to bad faith use (even though they registered the domain name a decade before the complainant existed). According to clause 2.6 of the auDRP Overview
Use of a domain name to resolve to parking or landing pages, or to generate revenue through pay-per-click (PPC) links advertising, is generally not considered a bona fide offering of goods or services under the auDRP.
Solely having a domain name parked does not give the registrant a legitimate right or interest under the second element of the auDRP. There are several other issues that arise under the auDRP from parked domains, but we’ll address those separately in a more detailed article. In the meantime if you are subject to an auDRP it is essential that you consider the do’s and dont’s of domain name disputes.
Secondly, the .au monetisation policy says:
3. A domain name may also be registered in the com.au 2LD under paragraph 2(b) for the purpose of domain monetisation, in accordance with the explanation of “domain monetisation” set out in the Guidelines on the Interpretation of Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs, provided that the following conditions are met:
a) the content on the website to which the domain name resolves must be related specifically and predominantly to subject matter denoted by the domain name; and
b) the domain name must not be, or incorporate, an entity name, personal name or brand name in existence at the time the domain name was registered*.
The usual dispute concerning domain monetisation arises under clause 3(a) and whether “the domain name resolves must be related specifically and predominantly to subject matter denoted by the domain name”. This raises questions such as ‘how many relevant links are sufficient’.
Finally, legal risk typically arises where domain names are not ‘generic’ in nature. Claims that can arise are trademark infringement or misleading and deceptive conduct type claims (under the Australian Consumer Law).
While there are benefits to domain parking, there are also some negative elements. Ultimately it is a matter for you to choose whether you use domain parking.
What do you think ?