Posted January 11, 2008 3:04 pm by with 12 comments

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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, 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 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?

  • Interesting…

  • Zen

    “back door” is not a good access in any case, with Google and Yahoo too.

  • You’ve put a great deal of thought into this – out of curiosity what triggered your thoughts on this subject? I personally have never thought about it but I don’t use AdWords very much.

  • The main question though is whether this drives visitors to your site or not. If the net result is still positive, then it may be acceptable.

  • Jeffrey

    David, do you think adwords quality is what it used to be? If so, do you think
    all the SEO stuff is worth the cost? I mean, if I can get a front page listing
    via adwords, why go through all the trouble and expense of SEO? Or do you think
    a highly placed organic link would convert as well or better than a highly placed
    adwords link? Have you ever seen any articles or data on this?

  • Jeffrey,

    I do think adwords quality is fairly high, but my concern is over the quality of their search network. When an ad network is saying it works one way and I discover it works another it is misleading. I’m also concerned about how difficult it can be through adwords to differentiate search network traffic.

    As for the benefit of SEO, that just depends on your target phrases and how good you are at getting organic rankings. I always prefer “free” over paid, but I’ll take a good converting paid link any day.

  • At the end of the day, the advertisers will/should always check conversion rates for a particular referer. If I was spending my money (and sometimes I do) then I definitely would stop ads showing on non-converting sites.

  • You’ve put a great deal of thought into this – out of curiosity what triggered your thoughts on this subject? I personally have never thought about it but I don’t use AdWords very much.

    pharmacie’s last blog post..Acheter Pravachol en ligne

  • Joe

    David, let me see if I under your back door theory correctly. The bar to google arbitragers is that google looks for them in their adwords program–i.e., landing pages covered with nothing but ads. So you are saying go through (avoiding the prying eyes of google) to generate traffic to pages littered with google adsense ads?

  • David V.

    Using’s contextual ad program, you could run ads on your site from Google advertisers who had ads running on Google’s “search network”, even if your site did not belong to that network.

    Many advertisers opt-in to the search network yet opt-out of Google’s content network.

    Google’s search network description made no mention of contextual non-search placements. For the sites I manage this issue has been resolved.

  • Pingback: Google Throws Away The Rules, Again | Merjis Internet Marketing Blog()

  • scott


    What do you know of this new thing call the arbitrageconspiracy which is about to be launched soon? Apparently this guy is doing quite well. My question is if this guy is making so much money why the hell would he want to flood the market or saturate it with new people which would provide more competition to him?