Google Ordered To Disclose 'Parked Domain' Metrics
A judge presiding over a potential class-action lawsuit by search marketers against Google has ordered the company to divulge financial metrics associated with its "parked domain" and "errors" program, which place ads on sites with no editorial content.
The data that Google must disclose concerns its assessment of the quality of sites within its AdSense network, including its parked domain and errors pages. Among other information, Google must reveal the "conversion score value of the property source" -- defined in the court order as "a metric Google uses to price clicks from Web sites contained in its network."
Also, Google must reveal the "smart pricing discount," or the discount that Google applies to clicks on some of its AdSense properties.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd in San Jose, Calif. ruled that Google should share this information with the marketers that are suing. The theory is that it sheds light into Google's pricing formula for its parked domain program.
The legal battle between the marketers and Google dates back to 2008, when several companies filed lawsuits complaining that Google shouldn't have placed them in its AdSense for Domains and AdSense for Errors programs. Those programs often serve ads on typo sites that people tend to visit by accident.
The marketers alleged that such pages are low-quality and yield fewer purchases or other conversions than ads that appear on Google's search results pages. The marketers also said they believed that clicks on ads on parked domains "were unlikely to lead to desirable business outcomes, and that placement on such pages could damage their brands."
Google counters that parked-domain ads "perform as well as or better than ads on Search and Display Network sites." The company also argues in court papers that it didn't mislead or harm any of the plaintiffs by placing their ads on parked domains or error sites. Google recently lost a bid to dismiss the lawsuit before trial, which means the marketers that are suing can continue to gather evidence in the case.