How Google Could Stop Adsense Arbitrage

Google is playing with fire with their current “Quality Score” nonsense. They are pissing off large and legitimate publishers who want to enter the adwords market by grossly discriminating based on a some secret formula. Their lack of transparency will lead to claims that the discrimination is based on factors other than their “trust us, it’s fair” method. My crystal ball says that this will end badly and result in several lawsuits and even more unsatisfied former clients.

But it doesn’t have to end that way. If what they really want to do is stop adsense arbitrage, rumination has come up with a rather elegant solution:

Here’s what I mean (in my kind of psuedo code): Add these lines to the application.

if ==
and == adsense.units
else exit()

The effect of those simple lines of code would be that any webmaster who bid on adwords phrases would only have Public Service Ads shown on their adsense ready destination website.

While there might still be some ways to circumvent this solution (like redirects), it looks like a way to get away from this silly “quality score” stigma that will open the doors for other PPC engines.

Their other option is of course to come clean and show us EXACTLY how quality score is calculated. Because right now, it feels like Google is trying to pull the wool over our eyes so they can pick our pockets.

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8 Responses to “How Google Could Stop Adsense Arbitrage”

  1. QuadsZilla says:

    Rumification sent me this article in response to an earlier post requesting interesting new stories. The door is wide open these days for new SEOs trying to gain links and readers. If you have something interesting or new, send it over!

  2. Pancho says:

    I’m sure there are ways to get around the code snippet, if it were in place.

    The real question is why G did such a thing in the first place. I don’t believe it was just because some (or even a lot) of people were doing the arbitrage thing. After all, they collect when you bid on a term. Then they collect when someone clicks on the adsense unit.

    They’re making money like they had the printing press and plates from Uncle Sam! So, why are they doing it?

    There is something else going on and we don’t have enough information to judge what it is. I know this: it may be invisible, it may be colorless, and tastless, but it sure isn’t ODORLESS.

    This whole episode stinks.

  3. pip says:

    it’s wrong if you say, they are making money by allowing adsense arbitrage. since it’s the adwords-buyer who’s paying the bills they have to care to reduce the bias. They would make the same money by having arbitrage-companies off the industry. the adwords client pays for success, not for clicks. he will always adjust his CPC to his income. and if he loses income in the network clicks he will shorten click prices, if he is sure to buy high quality (high targeted) clicks he might spend more on CPC. so for google it is the same amount of money at the end of the day. why they have to improve it is because YPM could be the first to find a better solution.

  4. Gotan Raider says:

    I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and if knew the whole story we would understand what the hell they are trying to do. As far as I can tell this is affecting publishers as well. They better get their shit together fast.

  5. deviant says:

    Google is not going to put an end to this, at least not any time soon. They make a lot of money from Adwords and a lot of that money comes from weaksause arbitragers who dont know what they are doing. Sure allowing this is bad for the advertisers, but in the very same breath it is great for Google as they are raking in the cash. I’m sure we will see arbitrage disappear, but from my perspective, I dont think it will happen yet. Google may try to make it harder for those trying to do it, but they wont make it impossible.

  6. Pancho says:

    Agree with that Gotan. The stories floating around the web are heart wrenching.

    Although some of the affected parties were asking for trouble. Like if you were a shoe merchant and had adsense units on the page too.

    The shoe merchant bids on adwords ads pointing to his page. The surfer clicks thru and then clicks on an adsense unit instead of buying shoes from him. That could be arbitrage if the adwords bid was significantly smaller than the adsense clicks paid.

    There are lots and plenty of straight-up webmasters getting it stuck to them by this move by the giant.

    Wish I knew a deepthroat at the ‘plex.

  7. tec7 says:

    You know – I love this site. I’m no black hat (I run a small business site in the UK and mostly use PPC) – but the search engine stuff that gets discussed here is way better than Search Engine Watch or many other forums.

    I’m also picking up links to other sites that I would never have found (first discovered Reddit here) and loving the fly swatter story (

    Keep up the good work

  8. […] There were several comments to his post about my adsense arbitrage solution. One of the folks who commented had this to say: […]