Back Door Arbitrage at Google?
So you want to get into the arbitrage game by serving Google ads on Yahoo?
If so, you have quite a few hurdles to overcome. Google’s quality team is gunning for you, countless advertisers are watching their logs, and just about everyone under the sun is excluding you from their content network campaigns. What’s a gray hat arbitrager to do?
Perhaps the answer is a back door method to arbitrage Google ads.
It seems that, as a partner in Google’s search network, Ask.com is displaying Google ads through Ask’s contextual advertising program. If this proves to be the case, this would be an under the radar method for arbitragers to run Google ads.
The benefit from the arbitragers’ perspective is that advertisers can’t easily see which sites are sending them traffic through Google’s search network, and thus, advertisers often can’t tell if that traffic is profitable. In Adwords, this data would be lumped in with the rest of the Ad Group and keyword data within campaigns that have the search network active (selected by default on all new campaigns).
From the advertiser’s perspective, since many campaigns are running the search network, and the data from the search network is combined with the data for the entire campaign, this is a problem that may go largely unnoticed. Furthermore, advertisers are forced into situations where they’re adjusting bids and losing position not because of poor performance on Google and other search sites, but because of poor performance on arbitrage sites.
Based on this scenario, advertisers are wasting lots of money and losing ad position because of a back door avenue for arbitrage traffic disguised as trusted search traffic.
For a long time, a point of contention with the search network has been the inability to opt out of specific search network partners and the inability, through Adwords, to receive data related to specific search network partners.
While you should always test your ad networks independently to decide whether you want to continue with that network, the ad network should, as accurately as possible (if not specifically site by site), inform you of where your ads will be displayed.
I do not feel that Ask.com contextual advertisers participating in arbitrage meet Google’s definition for its search network, which is described by Google as such:
Your ads may appear alongside or above search results, as part of a results page as a user navigates through a site’s directory, or on other relevant search pages.
I’m not an expert at arbitrage; however, based on my own analysis it seems that arbitrage is happening through Ask’s contextual ad network using ads served by Google’s search network.
I’m writing this article as a question to the Internet marketing community to see if you too have had your ads displayed through the search network on arbitrage sites through Ask’s contextual network or any other contextual network, for that matter.
Based on your research and experience, do you find this practice to be inconsistent with your expectations of Google’s search network, and what are your thoughts on the matter?