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Google To Put Bitch Slap On Arbitragers

written by John Chow on November 9, 2006

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Just saw over at Shoemoney about a Google Quality Score Bot that is aimed at giving MFA and Arbitrage sites a huge bitch slap. The new bot will rate a site’s content and if it find nothing but affiliate links and ads, which is the case for most MFA sites, the site will get slapped with a low quality score.

I talked to a close (anonymous) friend inside Adwords and she tells me the big changes are purely targeted at the arbitragers. This really again should come as no shock. She was super vague on specifics but did tell me that they were fingerprinting (my word) links and text on page that would indicate the page was a landing for contextual search arbitrage or cost per action arbitrage. For those in Rio Linda that means if your running a landing page and directly linking with your affiliate link or running a scraper with nothing but Yahoo/Google ads then YOU’RE IN TROUBLE!

Basically, Google is going to fingerprint MFA sites and is going to penalize them. Depending on the quality score, Google may deny them advertising on their network or charge a lot more. Google is not trying to stop arbitragers – they make too much money from them. By tying ad pricing to a quality score and forcing low scoring MFA sites to pay more, Google will be taking a bigger piece of the profit that Arbitragers make off legit sites.

Of course, Google won’t take so much that the Arbitrager can’t make money anymore. Google wants them to stay in business. While it would be great for their PR, putting Arbitragers out of business wouldn’t be a great financial move for Google.

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{ 22 comments }

David Mackey November 9, 2006 at 5:34 pm

Do you think this may partially be in response to the growing popularity of adsblacklist.com?

John Chow November 9, 2006 at 5:35 pm

No, I think this is something Google has been working on for a while.

Greg Morgan November 9, 2006 at 5:41 pm

I think the article is right! It’s a balancing game where Google can keep information relevant and still take some money from arbitrageurs without losing there own money.

Rex November 9, 2006 at 5:49 pm

I’m glad for this. Arbitragers are doing nothing but filling the net with crap.

Dave November 9, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Ah – “arbitragers”?

I’m going to Google this.

Bob November 9, 2006 at 5:57 pm

(Please don’t take this personally, but …)
your –> you’re

Great blog … I read it every day!

Eduardo November 9, 2006 at 7:07 pm

I am glad google is doing something regarding this issue, I think it was about time. Nice post, again bro..

Jeremy November 9, 2006 at 8:42 pm

This is old news..

siong1987 November 9, 2006 at 9:01 pm

It is good if Google does so. Then, advertisers like us can earn more.

Dave Davis November 9, 2006 at 9:14 pm

:) I find it funny too that an adsense ad below the post is titled “Adsense Ready Websites”.

Great blog mate. It’s about time Google took care of this.

egon November 9, 2006 at 9:15 pm

This is great. This has been my biggest complaint with adsense so far, it almost ruins the whole thing. A good portion of the sites that I click on just go to more advertising sites. I’m really surprised something hasn’t been done about this before. By the way, I love adsblacklist, I immediately noticed my earnings increase.

Tony November 9, 2006 at 9:17 pm

Rather interesting. I wonder if we’d have to update your Competitive Ad Filter list soon?

Shane November 9, 2006 at 10:33 pm

This is a good move. There are more and more ad revenue options available and there are too many link farms in their search results.

Long term it’s no good for Google to make a lot of money alongside a few thousand arbitragers who are making killer cash at the expense of millions of legit businesses and individuals or people will just go somewhere else for search and advertising.

Nomar November 10, 2006 at 12:13 am

good to hear, its only improving our earnings if those MFA sites get out of business

Philomena Ojikutu November 10, 2006 at 2:36 am

For me, there is little difference between arbitragers and click fraudsters. Any body that labor on good content daily to serve the audience would naturally be outraged to discover that some stale and STATIC MFA sites are reaping from your labor.

Gdog November 10, 2006 at 5:44 am

It’s been one weeks since I’ve used adsblacklist.com and my Adsense earnings have gone up significantly. So it does work. :)

Emir Pilavdzic November 10, 2006 at 6:57 am

Good news everyone, according to alexa graph, the strongest MFA (8-topsites dot com) is taking a fall!

http://www.adsblacklist.com/site/8-topsites.com

Party time for decent publishers! :)

Pete Lasko November 10, 2006 at 7:57 am

I had to look this up, so I’ll just post what I believe ‘Arbitragers’ are.

Sites paying for low cost incoming links, that are designed for the sole purpose of getting visitors to exit on higher priced outgoing links, hoping to make the margin.

I think it could also apply to any sites that are trying to game the difference in price between 2 markets. Even if the margin is miniscule, the process is automated, and repeatable.

ralphieb November 10, 2006 at 11:40 am

One thing I dont get is why these people use adwords to advertise their MFA’s/Arbi’s site in the first place, there’s a lot of half decent 2nd tier ad networks where you can buy cheap traffic.. after all that’s the whole purpose of this, buy cheap and earn high!

Ian November 10, 2006 at 11:41 am

This will most likely hurt regular site owners more than it will the automated MFA site generators. The kings of spam will dream up ways around this where regular simple sites that have adsense will probably get hurt more.

Zeeshan November 11, 2006 at 10:19 am

Most of the large arbitrage owners already use IP and user-agent paired filtering to present sufficient ‘content’ to the AdWord’s quality check bot.

When users land on these pages, the content is suppressed and users are presented with advertising only to get them induce a click-through.

To give a sense of how big some of these arbitrage businesses are, check out NYGroup’s pool of domains:

Over 65,700+ domains all touting arbitrage pages:
http://www.webhosting.info/webhosts/reports/total_domains/NYCGROUP.COM

A large pool of domains is being maintained on resources purchased from Fusepoint.com:
http://whois.webhosting.info/72.35.4.17

I personally cannot see Google pro-actively making an effort to remove arbitrage businesses from their AdSense and AdWords network except for lowering the chance for joe-average from making a decent profit from doing arbitrage.

Dave November 15, 2006 at 8:05 am

This seems like a good step by Google, but it doesn’t seem sufficient. The arbitragers make me want to stop using Google. I think Google’s short-sighted efforts to be soft on the arbitragers may hurt Google significantly in the long run.

In the real world, arbs add value by creating liquidity, for example. (Although, the argument in favor of arbs isn’t even clear cut in the real world.)

Has anyone seen any value these Google arbitragers add? Maybe one could argue that they add visibility for some advertisers. I personally haven’t seen this. I think they pollute the whole pool and make it harder to choose relevant ads or links. Quality goes down across the board.

I think the best overall value-add would be to change the rules so that the Google arbs no longer have any incentive to stay in business.