Why Are Highly Valuable Generic Domains “Fail Listed”?

This week I came across a post on the Namepros forum (which can be found here), of a domain owner asking why his domain name has been “fail listed” by our primary upstream ad provider[?]. To those readers that don’t know, “fail listing” a domain is when our primary ad provider decides that a domain is not suitable for their network advertisers and decides not to serve any advertisements on it.

A domainer later posted an image of a few random generic and highly valuable domains that are fail listed by the primary ad provider. Some of these domains that are fail listed include:

-insurance.com

-cars.com

-mobile.com

-usa.com

 

The question came up, why would our primary ad provider fail list such highly valuable generic domains. I posted a response with the reason but will further elaborate in this blog post.

Back a few years ago, there were two ways to monetize a domain. You either changed the DNS settings at your registrar to the parking name servers, such as NS1.BODIS.COM/NS2.BODIS.COM, or the alternative – URL forwarding. URL forwarding allowed you to redirect your domain to something like bodisparking.com/yourdomain.com. The problem with this implementation was that anyone was able to forward traffic to a domain that they did not own or control. As a result, Bodis and other parking companies had spammers sign up and send spammy traffic to domains that they did not own. Usually it was the first big keyword that came to mind, such as insurance.com, or cars.com. This worked out for the spammers as they didn’t have to spend money on domain registration costs. The policy of our primary ad provider was to fail list any domains that received spammy traffic or fraudulent clicks. Since fraudulent registrations and clicks were rampant at the time, this became a widespread issue where hundreds if not thousands of these domains were being permanently fail listed each month.

Eventually, our primary ad provider realized this was an issue and stopped allowing URL forwarding as a method of monetization. The bad news is that the domains that were URL forwarded were never marked differently from those domains that were fail listed via DNS setting. Therefore, our primary ad provider has no way of going back and unfaillisting only those that truly require a second chance. Manually combing through hundreds of thousands of fail listed domains may be a cumbersome effort.

It remains to be seen if any of these highly valuable generic domains will ever be unfaillisted in the future. We’ll be sure to update our clients and readers if anything changes.

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