Online Marketing Blog

How To Use The Content Network To Invest In Domains

One thing we have been helping more and more clients with recently is domain acquisition for conversions. We are by no means hard core domain investors and our experience of the domain industry is intermediate at best. However, one of the often overlooked benefits of PPC marketing is the conversion data from the different sources the networks use…

For this example, we’ll use the trusted Google Content Network. For those unfamiliar, Google allows you to advertise using Adwords on three different “networks”. These are “categories” are the Google Search Network, which Google Ads advertisers will be most familiar, The Search Partners Network which includes AOL and various other “trusted sources” and the Google Content Network which consists of hundreds of thousands of websites and domains running Google AdSense. For the sake of simplicity, I am leaving out print, audio and TV. What we will be focusing today is the Google Content Network.

Many advertisers either fail to consider buying additional domains to compliment their main one or don’t want the trouble of researching the value of the domain. With the Google Content Network, this is already being done for you behind the scenes.

The content network is, by default, run on all sources. This includes a plethora of relevant publisher websites as well as social networks, video portals and parked domains. We want to take a closer look at the latter.

It should be noted that Google give options to exclude most of these sources from within the Google Ads console.

Assuming you are advertising on the content network and have your conversion tracking set up (you do have it set up don’t you?) you can use a rarely spoken about Google Ads report called the “Placement Performance Report”. This report gives you insight into how your ads are performing on the different sources and gets as granular as the domain and URL of where your ad was served from.

Placement Performance Report

When you run this particular report, you can choose to report and view on a variety of metrics. For the purpose of this post, we will only be looking at the domain, URL impressions, clicks, conversions and Value/Cost (Return On Google Ads Ad Spend).

Below you will see an actual report run for one of our clients. As you can see, we have sorted the list by ascending conversion data. This is a report for ONE WEEK. Starting to see where I am going with this? For this particular client, the value for each conversion is between $97 and $227 so you can clearly see that the content network is working for them.

Google Ads Placement Performance Report Results

Great! We can see the content network is working well for this client. We can leave it running right? Well… let’s just take a look at what’s actually on “parked domain 1”. When we navigate to the site, we see a typical SEDO landing page with content network ads prominently displayed. We can also see the clients ad running in position #3. However, as with most/many SEDO landing pages that are only monetized through advertising while they are waiting to be sold, in the left column there is an offer to “Buy this domain“.

Domain For Sale

So this domain is for sale eh? If this domain is generating an average of six conversions per week for this client and it’s getting a lot of type in traffic, it must be worth something. Even sharing this domain with ten advertisers using Google Ads, the value to this particular client is on the bottom end is $762 ($127 x 6) per week or $39624 per year! (assuming traffic is maintained AND that the client is still sharing with the other advertisers). We might be on to something. Clicking on the “More Details” link to buy the domain brings us to the following page:

Sedo Domain Price

So here we have a domain that’s generating $762 a week gross revenue and it’s for sale for $500? Do I need to tell you what happened next?

We advised the client and they purchased the domain the day of this report. Because we know which landing page was generating the conversions from this domain, the client simply did a 301 redirect to the landing page and let me tell you, they are reaping the rewards. They are getting an even higher than expected return because now they are not paying for the clicks to their site and are not sharing the page with 9 other competitors! Since the beginning of the year, they have purchased over 30 domains using this method.

Buying these domains that have type in traffic and that you KNOW convert (from your Google Ads conversion data) offer a significant long term return on investment. So what are you waiting for? Go run your placement performance reports and see what money you are leaving on the domain table today! (before your competitors read this)

  1. Elizabeth Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Very true, those parked domains could be purchased for less than the cost you’re paying in clicks!

  2. doumiao Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    so great.
    but i have no google adwords account.

  3. Professional SEO Consultant Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Stupendous post!!! Very rarely do we see such valuable advice shared with the community. I cannot say enough about your work, except move to San Diego and work with us!

    There is so much value in buying domains, especially on the SEO side, but that is a story for another post.

  4. Annie Binns Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Outstanding!! Really – I had just set aside a few hours to catch up on my RSS reader and this is BY FAR the most interesting and useful advice I’ve read in days. I don’t think I would have ever thought about doing that, and almost all of my AdWords campaigns exclude the content network because I thought it would be a waste of money. This is seriously clever, thanks!!

  5. MRSA Symptoms Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    You have just upped the bar in domain buying, I hope you’re happy :)

  6. Martin Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Hmmm, does not really work anymore it seems..Google just displays ‘Parked domains’ as the url so I can’t see which domain it actually is.

  7. Tob Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    @ Martin – I think the “Parked Domains” are domains in the google domain parking program and wouldn’t contain domains typically for sale on sedo. I think you need to look through every domain in your placement report to find the parked ones.

  8. Shycon Design Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Excellent post. I have a lot of tools for finding domain names, but this really is a unique way to do it. Not only unique, but you have enough data to make very profitable decisions!

  9. SEM mythbuster Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Aren’t you forgetting one thing?
    If you 301 redirect the domain, it will lose it’s own organic tyraffic eventually as there will be no content to index. Therefore the valuable/high conversion traffic that you buy would be wiped out (as quickly as 3 weeks in some cases)

  10. Alex Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    cool idea, but for big shots i guess. for those who pay ‘for each conversion between $97 and $227’

  11. jeff Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I was thinking the same thing as SEM Mythbuster – would a better long term strategy be to build out at least some rudimentary content, or a landing page that presells the main domain?

    Either way, great idea –

  12. Dave Davis Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    @SEM mythbuster: No, this is irrelevant. The traffic is all type in traffic. Most parked domains have very weak (if any) organic rankings. Most search engines don’t see them as being much value in the organic index.

  13. Jason Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Hey man, thanks sharing this info. Now I’m even more glad that I check your blog on a regular basis.

  14. Bonnie Schwartz Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Great Food for Thought!!! I am going to dig into my placement reports and check out potential domains to buy. Thanks for the advice.

  15. Paul Burani, Clicksharp Marketing Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    This is certainly a novel approach, and hopefully adds some transparency to a very shifty domain economy. BUT — one should also consider that the Content Network tends to reflect search behavior more typical of PPC, and conversely domain names are more germane to organic traffic. Therefore you really want to be assessing the conversion rate of your visits from organic search. Depending on the product (and the website content) the difference could be big…

  16. Paul Lee Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Certainly a very good use of Google’s placement report. Good way to think outside the box.

  17. Ann Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    How Google looks on such 301 redirecting? Would they penalize you if they finally find out you are using this site just for a redirecting to another web site?

  18. Dave Davis Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    @Paul Burani: That is a VERY good point. Of course it is essential to weigh up the intent of the visitor. As with all investments, especially with domains, it is important to perform your own due diligence.

    @ Ann: No. You’d be surprised how many domains redirect to this site alone. What we like to do is redirect a domain about a topic to a page about that topic. That’s what this method should do in my opinion too.

  19. Domain Investor Says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 2:31 am


    I completely agree with SEO PRO, this is one of the most valuable posts I have read in a long time. As a veteran of SEO, SEM, PPC, and domaining, you have used a little known tool to uncover one way to determine the value of a domain. Rick Latona has some good thoughts as well, especially on geos.

    @Paul…great point…kinda… :) I understand your logic from an ‘organic SEO’ and ‘generic/keyword domaining’ point of view, but if an affordable domain is driving traffic, buy it. :)

    Dave…found your blog via a google alert. I will be visiting often. Keep up your insightful investigation and comprehension.

    Jay Lohmann

  20. paul - Says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Another great post Dave. Well done !

    I assume that the traffic to these parked domains is from type in traffic, rather than search results or back links ? You’ve shown a great way to use the AdWords reporting tool !


  21. martin Says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Excellent post and very interesting strategy to build long term ROI. With that analysis, I bet the decision to buy those domains was easy. Great work!

  22. SEO I-COM Says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Great post!
    I don’t think that you should 301 redirect the domains though. Ideally I’d add parallel content linking through to the landing page in the money site. Or as last resort 302 redirect.

  23. Gavin Doolan Says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Dave,
    Good post a creative way of looking at domain value and potential. Certainly something to look at for clients, but not so much for my personal projects.

    Thanks for sharing this tip. Its a bit of a golden nugget :).

  24. liam Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Excellent post Dave, best I’ve read in a long long time.

  25. Digital Third Coast Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for the tip, this is very valuable.

    As of late I have also been seeing some of the content network referrer data showing up in GA as well, which could provide to be useful in the same manner. Specifically, I have been seeing the URL’s of the “referring” domains in the referrer report even though they should not be showing in that method.

  26. Dave Davis Says:
    July 24th, 2008 at 9:20 am

    @ Paul: Yes, the traffic is indeed from type in which makes it a defensible purchase and an asset.

    @ Martin: It was indeed.

    @SEO I-COM: I already addressed this issue above.

    @Gavin & Liam: Thanks for the kind words and thanks for stopping by.

  27. Alexis Says:
    August 1st, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Excellent post Dave, realy ingenius method to look at a domain potential.

  28. Ultra reviewer Says:
    August 1st, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Well, i believe you guys should be doing excellent work in optimizing sites for others. I too was thinking of having my blog optimized by a third party like you all. But prices are too high.

  29. mrpurple Says:
    August 1st, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    It’s posts like these that make me keep coming back to!

  30. Melvin Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    This is pretty interesting Dave. Well I have bookmarked it and I will read it thoroughly for some time…

  31. Mal Milligan Says:
    August 3rd, 2008 at 5:24 am

    I’ve purchased over 1,000 domains and I just added your RSS feed. Great article – I’m impressed. I’m of course always looking for new ways to monitize parket domains… I’m going to send this article to the PPC manager at work. Regards,

  32. Epargne Salariale Says:
    August 4th, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Really interesting article! Very good summary of what some domainers are doing.


  33. Kieran Hawe Says:
    August 5th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Interesting post. I would suspect that there arent many parked domains that are for sale for $500 that get good traffic / conversions. But hey, worth a little time researching.

  34. PPC Coach Review Says:
    August 6th, 2008 at 8:43 am

    This is a great tip. Thanks for sharing it. I use the content network and look at the placement report all the time but never thought of this.

    I’m off to trawl through all my placement reports again.


  35. Tim Says:
    August 6th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Great tip, but 1 question. IF the domain is indexed and getting traffic from the search engines. How long before it is dropped from the SE due to the 301 redirect?

  36. Tim Says:
    August 6th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Never mind! Just read all of the comments :)

  37. Jeff The Blogger Says:
    August 24th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    This is a very good tip. I normally do not use the content network because of the low conversion ratio. Now, I am changing my thought process to use this tip to increase my overall profit.

  38. Linda P. Morton Says:
    August 25th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Google just keeps coming up with new tools to help Internet marketers and other small business owners.

    I just learned about Google Ad Planner which enables ad placement by demographics. I believe this is much better than placing ads just by keywords.

    I just wrote a post on it and linked to that post above.

  39. education faculty Says:
    August 29th, 2008 at 1:02 am

    This wouldn’t work anymore. Inbound links through 301s are no longer counted so the rank of this site would plummet. Anyone typing the address directly in their bar would still bet there but I don’t there are many people doing that.

  40. SEO Toronto Says:
    September 5th, 2008 at 11:45 am

    That’s one interesting method indeed. To my disappointment, it’s not something I can use right away with my modest personal websites, but definitely worth offering to our clients.

  41. Tarun Says:
    September 9th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Great read, we checked in our report and have identified not only atleast 3 domains but 1 website

  42. Matt Bacak Says:
    September 12th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Excellent post! This method rocks. I do it a little different way. Thanks.

  43. John Fredrickson Says:
    September 12th, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Hey Dave,
    Just wanted to say that I just discovered your blog and have been finding the adwords posts really helpful for my foray into the adwords world.

    The post from back in January on the updated status of the Adwords Content Network was particularly helpful because I had remembered reading that the content network performed quite poorly. I’m glad I stumbled across your post clearing all that up.

    Just as a heads up, I’m a big twitter fan so I looked you up and sent a request to follow you. Just thought I’d give you a heads up so that you don’t think I’m just some random twitter spammer.

    Not sure if you are using twitter just for private company stuff or not but I thought I’d give it a shot just in case since I’m very interested in following your insight on the online marketing industry.

    I’ll be following the blog either way. Thanks again for the great posts so far.

  44. Felix Says:
    September 25th, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Excellent advice. I also recommend the 301-redirect, because most parked domains (often with a misspelling of the clients brand-name) do not rank good in the organic index.

    Even if the domain name has the registered brand-name, you will not get those by legal means, because its hosted offshore.

  45. Kimber Says:
    October 1st, 2008 at 8:43 am

    This is really great post. Thanks for sharing. I really didn’t know that there is such an option to look on which domain ads have been placed. That really can help a lot, and with proper research good and valuable domains could be found.

  46. Devon SEO Says:
    October 13th, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Great blog, i’ve added to my bookmarks and i’ll be following your blog regularly. How about a post on URL construct and SEO.

  47. ESL tutor Says:
    October 21st, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks for post. I currently use adwords and I appreciate learning more about the features available.

  48. creativeherb Says:
    October 26th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    very interesting stuff. Definitely have to start noticing the placement reports more for my sites. And have to even consider getting more professional consultations in the future if there are such good ideas out there.

  49. Lexli Says:
    October 31st, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Domains are one of the most important aspects of an e-commerce site (whether product or just a service). Some people might have a below average website, but bought a great domain ten years ago and make lots of money with very little effort.

    Now I’m in the mood to go buy some domains!

  50. Joe Hayes Says:
    November 6th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Opportunities like this are phenominal if you’re smart enough to discover them. Very informative post, really good blog.

  51. Affiliate marketing guide Says:
    November 7th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Honestly an amazing idea, I never thought that the adwords tool can be used in such a way.
    thanks alot.

  52. Richard Says:
    November 9th, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    This is great insight, I have heard of these things being done before, but never knew the right approach. Curious, on these parked domains, any concern over click fraud or has the experience for your customer been great!

  53. Pete Says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    everything you have posted is of great value and is much appreciated. I agree with Lexli, “Domains are one of the most important aspects of an e-commerce site” My class is teaching us all about the importance now. Now… HOW in the world will I retain all this info? ha ha

  54. Tom Lindstrom Says:
    November 14th, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Finding a cool dot com domain name for business use is extremely difficult these days.Usually I use Google´s keyword tool to get ideas for a domain name.Sometimes it helps.

  55. Marcus Says:
    November 24th, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you for this post. I would still insist on this topic: The critical point at each PCC campaign are the choice and optimization of the Landig Page.

  56. David - Marketing Management Strategy Says:
    November 27th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    This is a really useful discussion.

    My question to you several months later is this: Is the new website that was built ranking and converting as well as the parked domain was?

  57. Kevin Says:
    November 28th, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Great article! Very good summary of what some domainers are doing.
    Thanks for info

  58. daidamia Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 6:38 am

    By these social network sites we can improve our business too.I would like to thank you for the research work done in this article.Thanks for demonstrating it by screen shots.

  59. Joe Says:
    December 7th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    “If you 301 redirect the domain, it will lose it’s own organic traffic eventually” from SEM mythbuster.
    Dave replies: “No, this is irrelevant. The traffic is all type in traffic. Most parked domains have very weak (if any) organic rankings.”
    Sorry Dave but by definition this parked domain WAS getting organic ranking per the facts you put up. The only place from which a parked domain with no links can get traffic is search engines (unless you left out some facts and this parked domain has a bunch of links from a previous time when it was an active URL). So what’s that mean? Assuming no links, I think it means the URL was getting ranked for some obscure search term based on the power of it’s URL name alone. Rather than a 301 redirect, I’d find out what obscure term this URL ranks for. Then build minimal content around that term (to bolster it) with one prominent link on the page … to your beneficiary URL.

  60. Cool Material Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    From what I am reading/hearing – the economic environment is causing a lot of domainers to tighten-up their portfolios and many domains are not being renewed in order to keep costs down. It might be a good time right now to check the domain-dropping services for good finds.

  61. Daniel Bailey Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I happened to stumble upon this excellent post, it’s so valuable I added this blog to my reader.
    I wonder what other ways there are to utilize those domains. Time to investigate…

  62. John Sabia Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Wow. I am so glad I found this site. I have subscribed to the feed. Thank you for sharing such great info.

  63. Recording Studio Tulsa Says:
    December 12th, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    I didn’t know you could buy up domains and redirect right to a commercial site. Is this what you do to become an affiliate?
    I hardly get around on a computer yet, but I have been told to become affiliated with several companies (not certain companies, just several)
    Thank you for this information, it seems very valuable. I’ve bookmarked your site to come back and learn everything I can here.

  64. Keith Says:
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Wow! nice post. I look at the placement targeting report every month and never thought of that although I see many domains converting well though they are parked. I just put all the converting sites to one campaign and bid it a little bit more.

    I need to take that advice now. Seriously!

    Thanks man.

  65. David - Marketing Management Strategy Says:
    December 27th, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Any chance of answering my question above?

  66. White Widow Says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Interesting analysis. Im not 100% clear on this process but it does sound promising. I will have to reread your post and log into my adwords account and see if I cant make this process convert for me as well.

  67. Dave Davis Says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    @David Dalka, Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I’ve been away for a bit over the Xmas.

    Regarding your comment “Is the new website that was built ranking and converting as well as the parked domain was?” I think I may not have explained what we did correctly.

    What we did was purchase the domain for the sole purpose of redirecting TYPE IN TRAFFIC. There was absolutely NO Search Engine Optimisation benefits or intentions behind it.

  68. New Method Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 12:37 am

    An interesting method – I will have to try this myself!

  69. unblogger Says:
    January 6th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Wow, great article, too bad just today I discovered this website.

  70. betty Says:
    January 19th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I mean i never thought from this angle. You have set my grey cells in functioning mode. I am gonna try this tip and lets hope it works for me!!!

  71. Hans Penge Says:
    January 24th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Well done. I’m sure your client was very happy with that finding.

    Have you tried buying parked sites that didn’t feature a “for sale”-sign?
    Some parked sites you could probably negotiate a decent price for, if you can reach the site owner?

  72. Pr firm los angeles Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 12:28 pm


    thanks for sharing useful information,i’ll going to try. will hope for same kind of informative articles from you.

  73. Elena Says:
    February 1st, 2009 at 5:26 am

    Unique way to increase our traffic. Can I know how many domains we can use for redirect?

    I have used adsense and adwords before. I never heard content network product from google before. Good explanation given.

  74. Dave Says:
    February 2nd, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Great Food for Thought!!! I am going to dig into my placement reports and check out potential domains to buy. Thanks for the advice.

  75. Terry Richards Says:
    February 23rd, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Whoa I never thought of using the content network as a way of discovering domains I can monetize. Great tip!

  76. Richard Hill Says:
    February 28th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    As per other peoples comments above – a great idea to look into. Hadn’t thought of domains and AdWords together before.

  77. Matty Says:
    March 7th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Great article. You give more details on investing in domain names than any other one i have seen. Described it perfect and makes alot of sense.

  78. Wynne Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Wow! I am surprised you shared this gold nugget with the rest of the world. Thanks!!! I will be buying every single one of these profitable domains I can find. You rock!

  79. Toronto SEO Says:
    May 13th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    This is pretty cool I have to agree with Wynne quite suprised you shared such a gold nugget =) thanks!

  80. Deep Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 4:33 am

    I have a doubt about Content Netword Ads

    If you have both JPEG and SWF image ads in an ad group for content network, which one will be displayed first.

    Is it solely based on CTR and quality sscore or is it based on the nature of the site (Flash/HTML)?

  81. Dave Davis Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Deep, the ad that is displayed is based on two things.
    First, weather or not the publisher accepts images ads.

    Then, and only then, it depends on AdRank.
    More info can be found on AdRank can be found here:

    Hope that helps.

  82. Bathroom Glasgow Says:
    January 16th, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Great post!
    I don’t think that you should 301 redirect the domains though. Ideally I’d add parallel content linking through to the landing page in the money site. Or as last resort 302 redirect.