Google AdWords Abuse

I came across this video on Stephen’s blog, who came across it on Tyler’s blog, who came across it on YouTube, so now it’s on my blog. There has been a recent explosion in abuse of AdWords, Google’s PPC (pay per click) advertising platform. It is apparent that the techniques do not follow Google’s own clear guidelines. Unfortunately, users and legitimate advertisers pay the price, while Google and the unscrupulous advertisers profit.

In addition to being an AdSense publisher I am also an AdWords advertiser and practices like those shown in the above video is one of the big reason I place my AdWords advertisements on the Google search engine only. Google needs to clean up this crap before it gets out of hand.

7 thoughts on “Google AdWords Abuse”

  1. Martin says:

    Hi John,
    this is a rather old video (4/06) that has been circulating for quite some time. The technique used in the video is called PPC arbitrage and I personally see nothing wrong with it. You basically buy traffic, filter it and sell it on.
    Google itself does not want to take action against arbitrage sites, because
    a) obviously, they bring revenue
    b) more importantly, according to Google’s statistics traffic filtered through arbitrage sites shows often better ROI than traffic from “normal” sites with AdSense. That’s also the point which every AdWords advertiser should care about the most, isn’t it? If you think about it, from this point of view you as an advertiser should really actually LIKE arbitrage sites.
    So, is it a win-win-win situation? Google is happy (revenue), publisher is happy (profit), advertiser is happy (good ROI). Well, not quite. There is obviously a problem with arbitrage sites from the user’s point of view. It really is a bad user experience to click on an ad only to land on a page with nothing else than more ads.
    To draw a conclusion – PPC arbitrage has two sides. Your sentence “practices like those shown in the above video is one of the big reason I place my AdWords advertisements on the Google search engine only.” doesn’t really make sense, because PPC arbitrage doesn’t hurt you. There are, however, downsides from the user’s point of view.

    BTW> My first comment on this fine blog of yours. Looking forward to more of your articles.


  2. John Chow says:

    Thank you for your comment Martin.

    It’s not the arbitrage that Google has a problem with. I do PPC arbitrage myself using Google and TTZ Media Network. What the problem is those sites have no content other than ads and that is a direct violation of the TOS. It’s also a very bad user experience.

    Arbitrage sites show better ROI than normal sites because the user came from a search engine in the first place. No normal content site is ever going to beat a search engine in terms of delivering highly targeted visitors. PPC arbitrage does have two sides; there is a right way to do it and a wrong. The video shows the wrong way.

  3. Martin says:

    John, I am sorry for trying to educate you about PPC arbitrage. You are a dot com mogul, after all ๐Ÿ™‚
    Of course arbitrage sites without any content are wrong, because unsatisfied users are going to click less ads in the long term.
    But then again – I still don’t understand why an advertiser should worry about it. I have even heard some advertisers saying that (when utilizing the publisher network) they actually prefer to place the ads on arbitrage sites.
    BTW running the search for “forklift” – the arbitragers have disappeared. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Iv says:

    Hi all,

    I think someone is missing the point.

    By allowing these sites to advertise, the genuine advertiser has to pay more in order reach a top position, because he has more competition.
    At the same time, the sites using only ads on their pages have greater income than others, because of the click thru rate, so they can afford to rise the bid as much as they want, forcing the genuine advertiser to rise the bid also.
    If you noticed, the false advertisers are not only on the network sites but also on the search engine and as long as they make a profit for almost every click, they become a very strong competition.
    Since these false advertisers appeared in the game, there is no way to buy a good keyword for few cents.
    So ripping off the genuine advertisers makes it ok?
    So Martin, thatโ€™s why an advertiser should worry about it.

  5. Albert says:

    Imagine being harangued by a dozen people holding out flyers to you when you’re just trying to buy milk. You will be irritated, less focussed, and uninterested if not angry before you even get to the cornershop. This degrades the quality of customer you are getting.

    I would like to see these statistics about better ROI for click-thru’s from arbitrage sites and how they arrived at those numbers.

  6. Doug Karr says:


    I noticed a distinct increase in my Adsense results after applying the technique from to block some of these folks using the competitive ad filter.


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