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Google to kill Domain Tasting?

 12:35 am on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Rumor going around saying Google will stop monetizing all domains if they are less then five days old. IF true this change should be announced to Google channel partners soon and will have a large impact.

It was disclosed in court that one partner that Google had was generating as much as $3 million a month (after Google’s rev share) from tasting.



 1:22 am on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

$70-$80 million later (2+ years at $3M/month). If Google won't touch it then will Yahoo? Stay tuned.

One theory says this proposed action won't stop tasting. It will just cut into the profits, as tasters still "taste domains for traffic" but don't make coin during the trial 5 days.

Rumors of ICANN setting up a "re-stocking fee" are also around. THAT might deter tasting even more.

The wheel of just desserts turns very slowly. I'm sure the pain of the golden goose dying will be more than eased by the $70-80 million taken in to date.


 1:59 am on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

$70-80 million buys a lot more than "just desserts" :)


 10:27 am on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes - the other 6 courses, the plates, the cutlery, the table and chairs, the entire restaurant and the rest of the block it stands on!


 12:25 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

I would not be too worried about the 70-80 million they stand to lose in revenue. This move will probably increase the quality of paid links meaning that the conversion rate will increase for advertisers, this will mean more advertisers staying and spending more.

The advertising market is like the search market, it relies on quality and as soon as the quality drops people will leave and you will be in a lot of trouble.

Google is just protecting the perception of quality, its worth more than the tiny amount they will lose from this (maybe 7-8 mil per year?). They have shown many times that they are not afraid to annoy people in order to protect the _perception_ of quality (perception and reality are not always the same).


 3:41 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Looks like I havn't been reading enough recently.

Was is tasting?


 4:09 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tasting is the practice of "trying out" a domain for a few days. If it is not to one's liking, the domain is returned, and registration fee refunded (or never paid in the first place), possibly minus a very small "tasting fee".

Typically, a taster will put-up a revenue-producing "parking" site to test the revenue-producing potential of the domain.

Not sure what Google's involvement in tasting has been, though?

While they are an accredited registrar, I don't think they sell to the public. (Or do they, in conjunction with some of their services?) Nor do I think they've been speculatively tasting for their own, since the "rumor" says they now will not do this with "domains less than 5 days old".

So, perhaps this is talking about Google providing the monitization for OTHERS who are tasting domains?


 4:49 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

thanks, jtara.

I still don't get the point. How is that income generated? Type-in? Adsense?


 4:59 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes. Type-ins and Adsense.

I guess what this means is that Google will now require that domains used with Adsense for Domains (e.g. Google's "parking program") will have to be at least 5 days old, theoretically eliminating the use of AFD during the tasting period.

But all it would take is an unscrupulous registrar who would back-date the registration date...


 5:01 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not sure what Google's involvement in tasting has been, though?

Do quick google search (oh the irony) and you will see many of the squatting/tasting/domain secondary markets are supported entirely by adsense/google.


 6:33 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't get it.. what's a big deal? What is to stop Tasters to use other Ads like programs? Is it just a PR stunt again? Why 5 days -- No Fee Fact or a hit to NetSol or they are trying to to distance them selves from Tasting? All though Creative...


 8:14 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

5 days, because that's the typical tasting period. After 5 days, you have to actually pay for the domain.

So, they are going to insure that domains in the AFD program have actually been paid for and aren't being "kited".

The purpose of "domain tasting" is to be able to measure traffic. Not to monetize the domain without paying for the domain.

Google is probably doing this because they may sense there are lawsuits coming over misuse of domain tasting, and they'd rather not be a party to them.


 11:28 pm on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

MY guess is that the tasted domains are being used on the ADWORDS side more than Adsense. As Ive posted before (and in some cases been censored) a lot of these tasters are using throw-away domains to take advantage of a bug in the Adwords algorithm. I won't go into it in detail to avoid further censorship (apparently because it works so well and now the cat is out of the bag with G), but suffice it to say it exploits the 'benefit of the doubt' given by G to new domains (generally MFA arbitrageurs to other PPCs) for the first few 100 impressions on each publisher for establishing a 'track record', after which the domain is no longer profitable to the advertiser.
If this is the case, and G is finally going to do something about this, I'm guessing OUR CPM as a publisher will skyrocket any day now. Something tells me they'll need to extend it to more than 5 days though, since $3 mil can still buy a lot of cheap .net and .bz domains.


 12:23 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

After 5 days, you have to actually pay for the domain.

Except you don't ever have to pay if you continually drop and then pick up the domain again for another five days, ad infinitum. Recent lawsuits over cybersquatting typo domains showed the methodology of passing domain portfolios between nominally different registrars who are in fact associated entities. Imagine a million domains which you never pay for, each earning $1 a year.


 12:53 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Jeese, who comes up with these ideas? I had no clue you could make money doing something that sneaky.


 1:34 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

So will this affect everyone?

Many of the sites/ blogs I make are based on popular topics where time is the key.
having to wait 5 days before I could make money would really suck.

I hope this will only apply to accounts that have a history of doing this or something bad.

Is it just me or will they be screwing allot of people for the actions of a few?

Am I missing something?


 2:15 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Am I missing something?

Yes - that this apparently applies only to Adsense for Domains.

Plus, it's just an un-sourced rumor, so we don't know if it's true or the exact details.


 3:23 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google might end their participation but since costs are virtually zero, it will still go with second and third tier ad programs.

Second poit: google will not lose 100% of their current tasting revenue if tasting is over for good; some /many of those people will go to other sites, many with google ads.


 5:45 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

un-sourced rumor

Kind of semi-official as of sometime Friday afternoon. G provided Danny Sullivan with a statement that, in short, said this was targeted against domain name kiting (as encyclo described above), not tasting.


 6:21 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm glad Google is doing this as I've had a bad taste in my mouth.


 6:39 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's official:

Now, Google is doing something about it, the company said in a statement Friday. Its new kiting detection system is to take effect Feb. 11.

"We have long discouraged domain kiting as a practice," the company said. "In order to more effectively deter it, we are launching a new domain kiting detection system. If we determine that a domain is being kited, we will not allow Google ads to appear on the site. We believe that this policy will have a positive impact for users and domain purchasers across the web."

Jay Westerdal, president of Name Intelligence Inc., a company that analyzes domain-name patterns, first reported Google's plans on his Domain Tools blog on Thursday, citing Google sources that said the company would stop the practice by not allowing registrants to make money from websites that are less than five days old.



 7:33 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Of course parked domains with adsense are EXACTLY the same as these domain tasting sites.

Therefore when will google 'free up' all the domains by banning them?


 10:52 am on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia has a description of Domain Tasting [en.wikipedia.org] that may help those that don't know


 2:22 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Jeese, who comes up with these ideas? I had no clue you could make money doing something that sneaky.

That is the tip of the iceberg. After cloaking in big fashion died late 2003 and dialers were killed by almost all governments, the gold diggers of the net moved on to even sneakier practices which have been mentioned but were not really explained in public.

Type-in traffic with domain tasting is just an optimization of usual domain parking which lowers your costs significantly!

I am more worried about the huge dark net of spyware out there. I know of a few installations in the market which are yet undiscovered, stealing every 10th ad click from advertisers and pushing those to other destinations.

And I believe the underground of Internet marketing is getting bigger, every time I look. Domain tasting is just one topic that is addressed now, but there are more precious problems not even discovered by the ranting herd (us ;-) yet!



 2:26 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I love the way they announce it as if they are doing this because it's a public service rather than realizing that ad quality can go up and it will appeal to advertisers so they'll make more money while sounding good. As you say, their parking domains prove they don't really care, it's all about the money.


 7:17 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I love the way they announce it as if they are doing this because it's a public service rather than realizing that ad quality can go up and it will appeal to advertisers so they'll make more money while sounding good.

The new policy is a perfect example of "doing well by doing good." It's a win for the public, a win for Google, and a loss only for the domain kiters. Unless you enjoy grazing at the domain-tasting buffet, why would the announcement leave a sour taste in your mouth?


 8:30 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Perhaps, EFV, because those of us who know the business know that Google has been providing the financial incentive for this practice for as long as the practice has existed. It's not as if the very bright people at Google couldn't grasp the many sides to this issue from the outset.

Sometimes one has to make the right choice before the public heat makes that choice inevitable. This isn't "doing right by doing good". This is whistling whilst casually sauntering away from the house you just set fire to.

Google does the "we can't stop what we set in motion" routine fairly well, jointly profiting with all manner of wrongdoers from content scraping, MFA's, persistent consumer-fraud-like Adwords garbitrage, massive domain tasting that includes god only knows how many famous trademark typosquats, etc.

Beyond the "doing good" I can imagine Google coming to grips with the idea that at some point some clever law firm will realize there is a VERY large sum of money to be made not by proving that Google "did wrong" but by proving that it profited from being the financial partner of the wrongdoers. R.I.C.O.? An equitable action for the disgorgement of all profits? Some remedy will be fashioned that will either allow the plaintiffs to reach back, via statute of limitations or equity, a long number of years.

One cannot claim "clean hands" by endlessly washing one hand whilst the other hand firmly holds onto all ill-gotten gains. For all the good Google does no jury will be particuarly impressed with how much it has profited by providing the profit motive and profit mechanism for, AND sharing in the profits of, all manner of unclean behavior.

One cannot round up all the geniuses Google does and then claim "Gee, sorry, but we just couldn't get our heads around what was happening or how to stop it." The monetization of "tasted domains" has been going on for about 2+/- years. Cessation of the monetization of domain kiting was a no brainer.

Google provided the mechanism to make money from kiting and tasting. They provided the financial incentive to do it. They effectively provided the financing to continue kiting and expand kiting. Clearly, they profited from it.

I have no trouble seeing Google as the efficient cause or cause-in-fact of the entire domain tasting/kiting practice. I suspect someone in Google came to grips with this potential jury "finding of fact".

[edited by: Webwork at 9:21 pm (utc) on Jan. 26, 2008]


 9:33 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)


You just wrote the definitive summary of issue. And you simultaneously put the knee jerk Google apologists in perspective.

Google's been casually sauntering away from houses they'd just set alight for some time now. It's the holier-than-thou public persona that they try to perpetuate that's galling.

They're beholden to stockholders, like any business. The days of mythical Do No Evil are long gone.


 9:34 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> by proving that it profited from being the financial partner of the wrongdoers. R.I.C.O.?

First, tasting is a legal business so I don't know how you come with RICO...


 10:06 pm on Jan 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Fist, tasting is a legal business so I don't know how you come with RICO...

Not so fast. It may not have been declared illegal legislatively. But, I think the essense of what Webwork was getting at is whether the way domain tasting or kiting operates is a fradulent practice? That requires no legislation. Whether it is a fraudulent practice would depend on many elements of proof.

Presumably, the victims would be Google's advertisers who would have to establish that they were damaged by the practice.

This 54 message thread spans 2 pages: 54 ( [1] 2 > >
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