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12|28|2014 02:10 pm EDT

TrafficZ Shutting down operations on Dec 31st, 2014

by Frank Michlick in Categories: PPC industry

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According to an email sent out by TrafficZ, it will cease it operations after Dec 31st, 2014, which is a relatively short notice. We’ve reached out for confirmation to Thought Convergence and also asked them if there’s any other properties/divisions that are still active besides DomainTools.

As you no doubt have heard by now, we recently announced the sales of our Aftermarket domain marketplace and our Agreed online escrow platform. In parallel with those sales, we will be discontinuing the TrafficZ domain parking and monetization service as of December 31, 2014.

In order to facilitate a smooth and seamless transition for you, our valued clients, we recommend that you explore alternative monetization providers and options for your domain assets. Many of our friends in the industry provide excellent domain management and monetization solutions, so we’re confident that you’ll find a suitable partner in no time.

Regardless of what you decide, though, please make sure to update your nameservers by 12:00 AM PST on next Wednesday, December 31, 2014, after which time we will no longer be serving ads from our upstream providers.

On behalf of the entire TrafficZ team, we’d like to thank you for your loyalty and support over the years (since 2002!!). And, as always, we wish you luck and continued success in all of your future endeavors.

Cheers, and Happy Holidays,
Ammar Kubba & Kevin Vo

07|25|2012 05:08 pm EDT

Oversee.net partners with Team Cymru to combat malware

by Frank Michlick in Categories: PPC industry

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The company’s domain parking pages were accidentally blocked by an anti-virus software earlier this year

Oversee.net announced today that its domain parking unit DomainSponsor has entered into an agreement with Team Cymru, a specialized Internet security research firm and non-profit dedicated to making the Internet more secure by helping organizations identify and eradicate problems in their network. 

Given the size and scope of its DomainSponsor traffic monetization network, the company sees itself in a uniquely advantageous position to help detect and identify potentially malicious communications to share via its relationship with Team Cymru to benefit the wider Internet Security Community.

According to Oversee.net’s CEO Debra Domeyer, the company “want[s] to support their efforts to help other companies avoid network problems caused by malware and to help users have a safer online experience.

Earlier this year in May, an author by the name of EarlGrey wrote on Syndk8.com that Oversee.net’s domain parking subsidiary DomainSponsor had been “hacked” and was “spreading malware“. The report turned out to be a false alarm, as confirmed by Oversee.net’s VP of Marketing & Communications, Aaron Kvitek, and a comment posted by the original author. The company’s domain parking pages had accidentally been blocked by an anti-virus software and Oversee.net was able to work with the vendor to remove the block.

See the full press release after the jump.

 

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03|30|2012 04:37 pm EDT

Marchex to Discontinue their Domain Parking Program

by Frank Michlick in Categories: PPC industry

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Marchex Sitebox Screenshot

Marchex operated a domain parking program through their MDNH subsidary  by the name of Marchex Sitebox. The program started in 2006 and is now being shut down as of May 1st, 2012 according to an email sent out today by the company. The website has not been updated at this time, however the application to join the program links to an error page.

See the full email after the jump.

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12|08|2011 03:39 pm EDT

Frank Schilling Relaunches DomainNameSales.com

by Adam Strong in Categories: Tools

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DomainNameSales.com Screenshot

After Frank Schilling shook up the domain parking industry with his release of his own parking company, Internet Traffic, it now appears he’s setting course to enter the race against incumbent domain name marketplaces. Schilling re-launched his DomainNameSales site today with a new look and new features.

The relaunch seems to be a natural progression for the company, after launching their own domain parking business. Schilling’s company has been selling domains from their own portfolio of hundreds of thousands of domains for a number of years.  The tools and systems and data that from these sales and inquiries are valuable insights in to the domain marketplace from one of it’s top portfolio owners.  The company freely released their own internal domain sales inquiry tracking system to the benefit of users of the InternetTraffic parking service a few months earlier.  We suspect that we’ll see more iterations from the crew at DomainNameSales in the coming months.

DNN is a big supporter of freeing up information and data like this.  Personally, I’d like to see more accurate reporting on prices, rather than broad ranges. We’ll take what we can get though. Tools and insight like this from leading companies in the domain space can only help to provide more intelligence and better decisions for all.  Clearly we understand that this information held privately is an asset that can improve revenues and fend off competition as well.  Data and information want to be free though.  They help inform the entire marketplace including buyers.  We’re glad to see this company leading the way like this.

The new site features:

  • a domain search (displaying recent searches)
  • a whois search (displaying recent searchs)
  • a newsticker
  • a list of recent inquiries
  • a list of recent quotes (with price ranges)
  • a list of recent sales (with price ranges)
  • a chat system  (appears they found a new use for the company’s “chattr” online messageboard experiment)
  • a valuation system based on the following parameters:

Domain Quality Score (Q) (Scale: 1-5)

The DomainNameSales Domain Quality Score is a factor of keywords, tld, traffic, buyer interest and other proprietary measures.

Traffic Score (T) (Scale: 1-5)

A relative measure of traffic based on historical data. Domains without data available are given “U” for unknown.

Price Ranges 

Price ranges are used in place of actual values to protect seller interests and reflect ever-changing valuations.

 

05|28|2011 12:57 am EDT

Spammers Abuse Parked Domains for Redirects

by Frank Michlick in Categories: PPC industry

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As reported by Symantec a few days ago, many parked domains have the chance to end up on a blocking list due to spammers abusing a security hole in the parking company’s redirect structure.

Symantec: “We have automatically blocked tens of thousands of these domains.”

While the post on Symantec’s official blog does not reveal the affected parking services, quick tests on three services revealed that at least two of them were vulnerable to the exploit. The spammers found a way to use the click tracking in the URL of the parking service to modify the target address by creating a link that contains their own URL. One of the services we found used Base64 encoding, whereas the other one simple used a URLencoded address.

Nick Johnston from Symantec recommends that the parking companies check the refer(r)er URL or add additional hashing to their redirect URLs.

[Update]: One of the domain parking system operators we identified and notified has informed us that a fix will be in place shortly.

[Thank you Hennie]

05|17|2011 03:47 am EDT

Frank Schilling Switches To Google Feed, Begins Offering Parking Services (InternetTraffic.com)

by Frank Michlick in Categories: News

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The domain industry sees many changes. With the downturn of PPC revenue, many of the old-school domainers started to respond more actively to sales inquiries in order to make up for the loss. While it appears that PPC income is not yet on the rebound, many domain investors have been looking to development and other methods of generating additional revenue. Especially with domains that were using a Yahoo! PPC feed the change has been very noticeable.

Driven by the pinch of lower PPC revenues on a Yahoo!/Bing feed, it appears Frank Schilling’s NAMedia has recently switched to a Google feed. The company has also removed their social application originally launched as Note.com, then rebranded as Chatr and now finally Postboard. Via Email Schilling told DNN:

“In the early days of the oil-boom you could literally drill a hole in the ground with a hand-drill and strike a small gusher of oil. Then as the shallow oil ran out.. the hand-drill guys invested in bigger rigs and more sophisticated machinery. Today you have elaborate rigs manned by the hand drillers grandchildren, striking huge oilfields, miles below the sea floor. Many of the people behind the drilling equipment quite literally learned on the job. There is no university for this. The domain traffic business is very much like that. The last ten years have seen an evolution where things have gotten much more sophisticated. A few of the larger operators have embraced technology and grown to deal with the changed landscape in paid search. Google has become a critical partner in the evolution of type-in traffic monetization. The level of technical efficacy required to play there is higher though.

I remain hopeful that Yahoo will turn its third party marketplace around so it remains attractive to domain traffic, but that job is really Microsoft’s responsibility now, and it remains to be seen whether Microsoft cares enough to solidify third party publisher payouts and to fairly value domain name type-in traffic against other forms of traffic in the channel such as Error Search and Keyword Marketplace Arbitrage.”

Aside from switching parking feed providers NAMedia is also allowing others to use this new feed. Schilling created a site at InternetTraffic.com inviting people to apply for a “A no-frills domain monetization platform, for experienced type-in traffic operators.” and promising that “You will make significantly more money here“. According to WannaDevelop’s Mike Cohen, the service is being tested by the likes of Rick Schwartz, Chad Wright, Garry Chernoff, Alex Lerman. [Update] According to our friends at HosterStats, there are currently over 14,000 domains pointing to the service’s nameservers.

“I’m looking for high quality type-in traffic partners to grow a long-term and stable traffic co-operative. I’m in a great position to do this, having a unique structure with a very large tranche of owned and operated traffic. I don’t need (or want) to create a huge profit center for myself on the back of my fellow domainers traffic. This is about trying to reward those who innovate by returning the bulk of the revenue to them, so they can do what they do best.. Everyone who has joined to date, is pleasantly surprised when they see what their traffic is really capable of.”

11|22|2010 11:21 am EDT

Metaverse Launches Product Parking Solution for Domains

by Frank Michlick in Categories: PPC industry

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Sample Screenshot of RoosterPosters.com

As announced in a press release today, Metaverse has released a new product domain parking service. The “Metaverse for Domains” service displays products related to the domain name on the site and pays a 15-20% commission on sales. The service will only work with domain names in which the company has retail products to compliment the domain name. Currently Metaverse offers products for domains in the wall art, posters, and home decor markets, but is planning to add more product types.

Metaverse started in 2002 as a technology company, offering a web content management software package delivered as a hosted service. To showcase the features of their content management package, they launched FulcrumGallery.com – a demo site which at the time only displayed images of the master painters. The site grew a life of its own and was re-launched in 2004 as an online store. Sales on Fulcrum Gallery soon surpassed software sales, leading the company to switch focus on online retail. Today, their store offers over 200,000 art prints which can be custom framed or transferred to canvas.

Can this new service compete with existing solutions like NameMedia’s SmartName Shops or Epik? Will domainers trust the new entrant into their space? Metaverse also mentions that the sites generated through their service may be indexed by Search Engines, but will they ultimately face the same de-listing struggle as other services? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

See the full press release after the jump.

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08|16|2010 06:14 pm EDT

Millions of Network Solutions Parked Pages Were Serving Malware

by Adam Strong in Categories: Registrars

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Armorize, a web security company, reported on their blog today that Network Solutions had been displaying a widget box that contains malware.  The company was notified and quickly remedied the parking pags.  Based on a yahoo search only, there are over 5 million domain names with NSI parked landers that may have been affected by this drive by malware.

According to Help Net Security, the malware is a drive-by variety that doesn’t take much to infect the users computer. Simply visiting a parking page hosted by NSI would trigger the download.

The malware then modifies the registry, monitors four of the most popular browsers, redirects users using popular search engines to other websites, pops up advertisement according to a list of search terms and duplicates and renames itself to resemble a varied assortment of legal and illegal software (mostly key generators and cracked software versions). It then “phones home” to several URLs in order to receive further instructions and download more malware.

Only 50% of the antivirus solutions included in VirusTotal’s check detected this malware a couple of days ago, and it was discovered to have the ability to block well-known by download analysis services such as Wepawet and jsunpack.

This attack definitely marks the beginning of the exploitation of hosting providers as a means to compromise a massive amount of domains and spread malware to millions of users in a short period of time. Let’s hope that hosting providers will take this occurrence seriously and rethink their defenses from top to bottom.

This is not good news for parking companies and domain owners who rely on parking revenue. As parked pages become synonymous with malware or problems, users will shift away from clicking more and more. . . Is this just another nail in the coffin for domain parking?

02|15|2010 01:56 pm EDT

PCWorld Recommends to Block Information.com

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Up to the Minute

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IDG’s PCWorld just published an article by Jared Newman about 15 Internet Annoyances and how to fix them. Of course the author thinks that parked domains are one of them, even if they may actually get the user to where they want to go. So Newman recommends all domains that involve framed parking on the Oversee.net owned Information.com domain:

13. This Web Site is Bogus

Sometimes when you mistype a URL or click an old, abandoned link, you’ll come upon these junky Web sites filled with useless links, a search bar that returns who-knows-what and a deliciously ironic slogan, “What you need, when you need it.” This is the work of cybersquatters, who occupy Web sites in hopes that you’ll click on those links and make them some money.

The Fix: Firefox users can once again use BlockSite to turn one major cybersquatter’s Web sites into blank pages–just add “*.information.com” to your restricted list. This will foil one major cybersquatter whos sites always refer back to that domain, but unfortunately the same trick doesn’t work in Internet Explorer’s list of restricted sites. No matter what browser you’re in, never give squatters the satisfaction of clicking on anything.

Of course the article also calls anyone who would re-register and park a previously registered and expired domain a cybersquatter, forgetting that the term implies an actual infringement on someones trademark. Maybe we should add journalists who do not do proper research to the list? I guess I could post that as a comment on his article, but then again, that would require registration on the site, which also is one of the annoyances he lists.

09|22|2009 04:26 pm EDT

Recent Opinion on Google Case May Help Domain Owners

by Paul Keating in Categories: Legal Issues

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In June of last year, Google and Louis Vuitton were engaged in battle before the Cour de Cassation (France). The French court requested the opinion of the European Court o justice (ECJ) on three matters. Today, the European Advocate General issued an opinion advising the ECJ regarding its anticipated ruling. The AG opinion available here (Opinion) included the following:

“The selection by an economic operator, by means of an agreement on paid internet referencing, of a keyword which will trigger, in the event of a request using that word, the display of a link proposing connection to a site operated by that economic operator for the purposes of offering for sale goods or services, and which reproduces or imitates a trade mark registered by a third party and covering identical or similar goods, without the authorisation of the proprietor of that trade mark, does not constitute in itself an infringement of the exclusive right guaranteed to the latter under [the Directive]”

“Article 5(1)(a) and (b) of Directive 89/104 and Article 9(1)(a) and (b) of Council Regulation … 40/94 … must be interpreted as meaning that a trade mark proprietor may not prevent the provider of a paid referencing service from making available to advertisers keywords which reproduce or imitate registered trade marks or from arranging under the referencing agreement for advertising links to sites to be created and favourably displayed, on the basis of those keywords.”

“In the event that the trade marks have a reputation, the trade mark proprietor may not oppose such use under [the Directive].”

“The provider of the paid referencing service [Google] cannot be regarded as providing an information society service consisting in the storage of information provided by the recipient of the service within the meaning of Article 14 of Directive 2000/31/… in particular electronic commerce, in the internal market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’)”

What could this mean for Domainers? As we know, domain names in PPC serve as keywords for PPC results. While some PPC providers allow owners to categorize domains or add additional keywords, Google and Yahoo require that the added words bear a contextual meaning to the actual domain name. In essence, domain names used in PPC serve the same function as Google’s keywords as used in advertising. LouisVuitton.com is thus served up as “louis + vuitton”. The PPC advertisement links appear because advertisers who have paid Google/Yahoo to have their advertisements appear on pages in the domain channel when such keywords are used in a search.

We must of course wait for the official decision of the ECJ but it is nice to see when people “get it”, particularly when they are in such authoritative positions.

So, one may ask….. How is the PPC system any different from what the European Attorney General sees as infringing activities? In a real sense of course there is no real difference other than one keyword is purchased from a list and the other is in the form of a registered domain name (and of course you are you and Google is king).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the various sectors of the Internet. Of course, UDRPs and the like are based on a different standard. However, even the panel decisions remain subject to court decisions. Now if only we could convince domainers to pursue legitimate claims in court, we might have something that would benefit everyone.


©Paul R. Keating, Barcelona 2009. Mr. Keating has been an attorney since 1983. He escaped the good life in San Francisco and now lives and works in Barcelona Spain. He specializes in domain name related matters including ownership structures, taxation, transactions and domain dispute resolution. Paul@law.es.