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Subdomain Leasing (Suspicious)

     
1:53 am on Jul 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A person approached me asking to include their articles on my website and they are willing to pay $2k per month. When I declined, he again attempted to lease my subdomain for the same purpose of publishing their articles. Since the beginning, I am suspicious that they will do something fishy because of the following terms:

- They want to post niche-related and some trending entertainment news.
- Only 10 articles will be posted for the entire contract.
- Contract guaranteed is minimum of 3 months.
- They will drive traffic via social media.
- Subdomain homepage is redirected to the main site. (seems they donít need to be visible in search)
- Sample post shows the annoying type of paginated article with photo and a couple of sentences. A slideshow type.
- Inclusion of their records on the ads.txt file on root domain.

What are your thoughts on this? My site only has about 15k pageviews/day but doing well with ad revenue due to its in high-paying niche.
3:13 am on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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You don't need advice. Your instincts are already pointing you in the right direction.
7:12 am on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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What they want is ACCESS to your root directory.

NOT!

See if their two k offer still works when you reply:

"Yeah! Sounds Great! Send Me Your Content and I Will Post It Immediately!"
11:10 am on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds fishy.
2:15 pm on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Basically, what are they up to? Are these part of Ad fraud activities? Of all the terms, they insist on the addition of their records on my Ads.txt file that currently contains only my Adsense data. As we all know, Ads.txt prevents unauthorized inventory sales and other ad fraud.
2:44 pm on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@rcodabas
Inclusion of their records on the ads.txt file on root domain.

I suspect the goal is related to ad fraud. With inclusion on your Ads.txt they can sell your ads space.

But really, who knows they may be trying on different fronts.
3:11 pm on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I think the idea is to monetize their content posted at your site or subdomain, and to promote this content through black hat and fishy methods, as a result "they" are safe, but your domain name can be black listed , or banished .
9:51 am on July 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the inputs Sirs.

Since the beginning, I know something is not right considering that the offer is unusual. For them to be able to pay me 2k/month they must be earning twofold or more of that amount. To me, achieving it with just 10 articles is impossible without applying fishy methods.

Thanks again.
10:44 am on July 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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For them to be able to pay me 2k/month they must be earning twofold or more of that amount

Yes, and you might wonder why "you", a small insignificant publisher*, are so powerful and influential that it's worth posting their articles at your site.


*I am joking of course :)
3:50 pm on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I just got the same email recently, except it was offering $3K per month. They were supposedly located in New York and had a New York phone number as well. I proceeded to speak to the person for an hour over the phone to get more information. (I knew it was very likely a scam. I was curious because it's definitely a very different angle.)

They sent me a contract which includes indemnification clauses for everything ranging from copyright infringement to ruining your brand's reputation with search engines, advertising companies, etc. They outline exactly what they'll do in the contract.

He was adamant about completing the "onboarding process" that takes 2 weeks, which includes updating your ads.txt file, before making the first payment of $3K.

After analyzing all aspects, here is what I think they plan to do:

1. Sign the contract, which makes it seem legit and also waves your right to sue him. It's mandatory arbitration and he has already outlined exactly what he'll do with your ad space while waving any responsibility for possible damages.

2. Complete the "onboarding process". Now you'd update your ads.txt file according to the accounts he specifies and you send him your Google Analytics data. He then takes that to advertisers and secures a high CPM rate since they confirm he owns the account by checking the ads.txt file. He controls a subdomain of yours "like blog.x.com" since setting that up is part of the onboarding process.

3. At this point he'll drive a lot of traffic using cheap advertising on social networks to create impressions which will generate a high CPM rate to articles on that subdomain, but no real clicks since the targeting is all off. (Advertisers think they're advertising on your site, but really he's using any generic article because he just wants to drive impressions.) Your brand gets destroyed with advertisers since your CTR is extremely low. He makes a good profit and then walks away after 2 weeks saying that the onboarding process didn't work. As per the contract, he doesn't owe you anything since it was dependent on the onboarding process being successful. There's probably nothing you can do now. You already gave him permission to do this in the contract.

If he's able to continually squeeze out high CPM, he might even pay you for the first month until he has completely destroyed your reputation with advertisers and no one wants to select you as a publisher anymore.

Be careful!
5:19 pm on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Interesting post Deepy thank you for sharing, and welcome!
5:28 pm on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thank you! Why no way to like a post?
5:39 pm on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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That comes in time (and the number of posts you make). New folks don't get all the bells and whistles immediately. We all had to go through the same process.
5:45 pm on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Deepy ... also meant to welcome you to Webmasterworld!

Side note: some things at WW do not work if script blockers are active. Keep that in mind.
7:39 pm on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Ah ok. Got it, thanks!
 

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