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Adsense Arbitrage

who knew about this?

     
5:46 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I got gang tackled in the adsense forum the other day for making twice as much on adsense as I spent on adwords, even though I was never obligated to buy anything at all from adwords.

The dirty word "arbitrage" was thrown at me as if I knew what sneaky thing I was doing...even though I had no clue.

For over 10 years I have participated in Adsense and Adwords. Fortunately I USED to have excellent organic listings, over 15k terms per month (many of you already know this). Just being a nice guy, I figured I could throw G a bone and spend some of my earnings on adwords ads...just felt it was the right thing to do.

The new rule is (from what WebmasterWorld tells me, not Google...and I have talked to many Google reps about just this situation) - You can place an adwords ad for your website, but you can't (shouldn't) have adsense on the target page. I had adsense on ALL my pages.

I recently weighed out the advantages and disadvantages of their ad system and decided it's not worth it anymore. Once I removed adsense and terminated adwords, my site performance immediately improved 2x and my ecom conversion improved beyond any returns Adsense would have ever delivered.

It was always my contention that Google preferred sites with ads (their ads) as an exit in case the user was un-targeted (most are). I also find it odd that content farms and ad network partners don't advertise on Adwords. Only what appear to be Amazon affiliates who are trying to make a spiff.

Bottom line: if you didn't know about this arbitrage business, take appropriate corrective action....like I did.
5:51 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Also wanted to add that I dumped Analytics too and switched back to PIWIK. Much more useful real time data. I'm now hoping the rumor that "this won't affect my organic listings" holds true.
7:32 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I surprised you made it this long- Google has been cracking down on arbitrage sites for many years.

Having AdSense on AdWords landing pages is not prohibited, but definitely frowned upon. Google's reasoning is that if someone clocks on an ad to get to your site, then immediately clicks on another ad to go to another site, keeping you as a middleman is a poor user experience.

They are (mostly) okay if a user clicks on an ad to your site, finds useful information, AND THEN clicks on another ad.
9:31 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I've noticed a site called wow.com that has adwords ads on Google's search results pages, and if you click one of them, you land on what looks similar to a parked page containing a series of ads followed by a copy of Google's search results from the original search results page.

I don't understand why Google allows this. Does anyone know anything about it?
10:31 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Having AdSense on AdWords landing pages is not prohibited, but definitely frowned upon. Google's reasoning is that if someone clocks on an ad to get to your site, then immediately clicks on another ad to go to another site, keeping you as a middleman is a poor user experience.


First, the statement "I'm surprised you made it that long" comment is out of line because I was not trying to cheat. I just used their system out of the box as is. You say it yourself in the above quote "not prohibited, but definitely frowned upon." Frowned upon where? Who made this up?
Show me where it says this and if it's so bad, why can't their system detect it...they police everything else.

I'm just very happy to be rid of it. That company has lost it's mind.
10:34 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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WOW is an AOL company, so that means they're likely a search partner, and probably not in the Display Network (i.e. they have a different deal - maybe similiar to Ask) That doesn't excuse it, it's a crap result, but like I said, they don't have the same rules as we do.

I used AdWords to drive traffic to one of my sites for a while, and that site had AdSense on it. I gave it up because I didn't need it. But that was back in 2005 or 2006; I wouldn't do it now.

Personally I don't think there's anything *wrong* with paying for targeted traffic to a site that's running AdSense, and I don't think Google originally did either. The thing is, as with everything, spammers and scammers realized it was pretty much a money tree, easy to exploit, and ruined it for everyone, and Google decided that policing it was more trouble than it was worth (specially when the advertisers started howling) So they started cracking down, and it became more trouble than it was worth to legitimate publishers.

The fault doesn't lie with people like samwest, it lies with Google (who created this kind of economy without thinking through the levels of fraud it would engender), and with the people who found a little hole in the system and proceeded to drive an eighteen wheeler truck through it.

this is why we can't have nice things
11:09 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It must be said that those who "Do No Evil" just might not have a clue as to what is evil. :) I could comment more, but I won't!

There is no hard and fast rule re: the OP's topic, but it is frowned upon nonetheless. As always, one should pick their battles and go from there.
11:28 pm on Feb 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@netmeg - you said it better than I could. As a rather lazy advertiser, I think some of my ads may have been created around 2003 / 2004 and haven't changed since. This now makes sense that my site that was previously doing well year after year starting dying a slow and steady death in 2010.

Netmeg is spot on with the fact that originally they didn't mind. It was a non issue. I probably lost tens of thousand in sales by believing in what Google was advising in those early years. It never even occurred to me that this was an even issue.

I guess I don't think on their same "evil" level. Just hope this helps some other idiot like myself.
3:16 am on Feb 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The new rule is... You can place an adwords ad for your website, but you can't (shouldn't) have adsense on the target page.


That's not really a rule. There was a time when arbitrage was common but those sites got weeded out because they were simply poor quality landing pages, a poor user experience. Sites like that were sometimes described as MFA sites (made for AdSense sites).

Bidding on AdWords, including for keywords you already rank for, is a legitimate strategy for acquiring site visitors and cultivating links. There are certain kinds of phrases that are money phrases and certain phrases that are more keyed toward site discovery and visitor acquisition. So if you're going to bid on AdWords to promote a site that monetizes with AdSense then it makes sense to focus on phrases that are closer to visitor acquisition, where someone comes to depend on your site. Obviously that doesn't apply to every site.


Once I removed adsense and terminated adwords, my site performance immediately improved 2x and my ecom conversion improved beyond any returns Adsense would have ever delivered.


That sounds very plausible. I've measured the performance of affiliate ads with different AdSense placements, as well as used heat map data to study how site visitors interact with a page and it's true, AdSense ads can affect the monetization of other kinds of advertising. Not only that, but adding or removing ad units can positively or negatively affect the earnings of the AdSense units. For example, in one experiment I added more ad units to the middle of a page and it negatively affected the earnings of the ad at the top of the page. There's a push and pull effect on how site visitors navigate a page that influences what a site visitor focuses on that is tied to how a page is laid out. People skim pages so it's important to understand how a site visitor can lose focus on the action you want them to take because of on-page elements diverting them from the path to the desired action.
4:49 pm on Feb 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A lot of very big sites have been using both AdWords and AdSense for years. The last time I looked, the terms of service for both products don't say that you can't use both.

What I have read previously from Google is that it wants landing pages to have content that is original, relevant and transparent (Google's words, not mine). It's those landing pages that result in a good user experience versus the ones that simply have a big ad in the middle of the page and are entirely designed to get a paid click. Google seems especially hard on affiliate sites.

That said, it seems logical (and from experience) that Google knows when sites are using both and won't deliver high-paying ads to landing pages that are being promoted with AdWords.
5:11 pm on Feb 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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First, the statement "I'm surprised you made it that long" comment is out of line because I was not trying to cheat.

There was certainly no accusation that you were cheating.
why can't their system detect it...they police everything else.

This is exactly my point about being surprised that you made it so long. Either you somehow avoided Google's radar or they felt that you were not actively involved in arbitrage.

That said, there have been lots of other people who were not actively engaged in arbitrage, but were penalized by Google nonetheless. (As were there lots of other people who WERE engaged in arbitrage who never got hit.)

Once I removed adsense and terminated adwords, my site performance immediately improved 2x and my ecom conversion improved beyond any returns Adsense would have ever delivered.

That indicates to me that Google was unhappy with the situation, but not unhappy enough to ban you. Just some "social engineering" to try to get you do what they want you to do.
2:03 pm on Feb 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The program policies do specifically mention, and forbid, arbitrage. ( [support.google.com...] ).

The focus of this always seems to have been on low value content rather than an inherent issue with directing AdWords ads at AdSense sites.

I'm confused though. You seem to be hacked off with Google about this, but reading the above it sounds like it wasn't Google that told you not to do it.
2:43 pm on Feb 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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That link is helpful. It seems the question comes down to a definition of arbitrage. This line may be closest:

"Driving traffic (whether through "arbitrage" or otherwise) to destinations with more ads than original content, little or no original content, or excessive advertising."
10:46 pm on Feb 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's a thin line to walk, but if you can't tell the difference between a content site with a few ads and an ad site with a bit of content, probably best not to pay for traffic.
2:54 pm on Feb 25, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just some "social engineering" to try to get you do what they want you to do.


So I quit Adsense, Adwords and Analytics. I'm sure that was what they wanted me to do.
4:34 pm on Feb 25, 2015 (gmt 0)

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"Driving traffic (whether through "arbitrage" or otherwise) to destinations with more ads than original content, little or no original content, or excessive advertising."



So, I wonder if it's considered "poor arbitrage" if traffic is purchased from Bing and leads to a page with AdSense ads?

FarmBoy
9:35 pm on Mar 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Funny thing happened to me and my adsense. I was doing arbitrage for a few years and my adsense revenue started getting hammered. So, about 3 years ago I stopped all adwords arbitrage. Then about 1 year ago my adsense earnings and visitors started to climb. Not sure if it is related but now visitors are up 2x and adsense up 4x. I'm not going to touch anything ever again.
 

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