Lost in the parking lot: Avoiding parked domain dead ends

“Holiday Packages Are Almost Being Given Away”

“Unsold Sofas Selling For Nearly Nothing”

“Killer New EVs With Longest Range And Most Power”

Sound too good to be true? The ASA has recently published three upheld rulings about ads making the above claims and more, following proactive investigations into ads for parked domain websites.

You can read them in full here: Red Gobo Inc., Person(s) Unknown t/a Nimble and Person(s) Unknown t/a pr.couches-sofas-94612.com.

What are parked domains?

A parked domain is a website that has been purchased but has not been thoroughly developed. There are legitimate reasons why a domain may be “parked” – for example, to protect the domain name from being used by others.

Parked domain websites are sometimes monetised by hosting ads and driving traffic to the website using other ads, often using content discovery networks. Ads for parked domains tend to use attention-grabbing headings to attract clicks. Consumers are then directed to a site that contains several layers of links that only lead to sponsored ads or search listings, rather than any original content.

When are ads containing parked domains problematic?

The ASA rulings found that the ads featured claims which implied that when consumers clicked through, they would find product listings, information, or editorial content. Whereas all they were provided with was several layers of links to further paid-for ads or in some cases, search engine results – effectively, a dead end.

For example, the ad which featured the enticing claim “Canary Islands Holiday Packages Are Almost Being Given Away” ultimately linked through to search results listing ads for travel agency websites, none of which offered any significant discount for their Canary Islands holiday packages.

Furthermore, ads for parked domains often give the impression that they feature editorial content (“Thinking Of Remodeling Your Bathroom? See The Latest Trends”, Red Gobo Inc.) and falsely imply that the advertiser is acting for purposes outside their business. This is misleading to consumers who should know what type of content they’re getting before they click on an ad. Some of the ads included the label “search ads”. However, the ASA did not consider that this counteracted the overall impression of the ads and was not sufficient to make clear to consumers that the ads linked only to more ads, particularly when used in conjunction with misleading claims.

How can ads for parked domains comply with the Code?


  • Make your commercial intent clear from the outset.
  • Describe accurately the content consumers will encounter once if they engage with the ad – “search ads” is not sufficient.


  • Use misleading headings to entice people to click.
  • Present the content consumers will be met with as editorial when that is not the case.

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