Did Google Just OK Adwords Arbitrage Again?

I feel like I’m in some kind of dream.

I don’t know how I missed it, but this was posted on the Google Adwords blog just last week:

Using Google Adsense to Complement Your Adwords Account

The post asks how, “since not every visit leads to a sale, wouldn’t it be great to have other ways of making money from those visits?”

Their suggested answer to this conundrum? Put Adsense on your site.

What?

The post continues:

“DesignerApparel.com is an AdWords and AdSense client that has had great success using these two products together. DesignerApparel.com offers premium designer clothes at affordable prices. They implemented AdSense for Content and AdSense for Search and specifically targeted certain pages within their site.”

The “CEO”/Webmaster guy then says, (get this):

“We have come to think of AdSense revenue as a partial but instant rebate on our AdWords investment,” said Dominic Ang, President of MyPerfectSale.com, the owner of DesignerApparel.com. “While we were initially concerned about potential cannibalization, we have found out that using certain spots for AdSense such as the end of a page or in exit pages can drive significant additional revenue with no loss in our core e-commerce revenue.”

You view it as what? “A rebate on your Adwords” clicks?”

But wait – It gets even better…  What kind of site is “DesignerApparel.com”?

It’s a…wait for it….thin affiliate feed site. At least “DecorMyEyes.com” actually sold the products they promoted…

Go to this page on DesignerApparel.com and check out what happens when you click on a product in their “store”.

The entire site is an affiliate ‘doorway’ page to other shops.  A year ago you would have been banished for life from Adwords for promoting a site like this via Google Ads.

Now, not only can you run ads to a door way like this, you can even run Adsense on it and arbitrage your “rebate” on Adwords clicks – And Google is SUGGESTING THAT YOU GO OUT AND DO IT!

In fairness, it doesn’t say they run Adsense ads on their individual Adwords landing pages however it doesn’t say they don’t. Again, I feel like I’m dreaming.  After several years of painfully culling the accounts of arbitragers, affiliates, and price/review aggregators, we have this?  Really?

Maybe now that Google has an affiliate network and their own in-house thin affiliate feed sites (shamelessly ripping off ShoeDazzle’s innovative style configurator), they’re ready to ease up a bit on their guidelines.

It looks like it’s ‘game-on’ again for arbitrage, they just blessed it.

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13 comments “Did Google Just OK Adwords Arbitrage Again?”

Seriously – this is BS. They allow SOME people to arb, only if they are also spending $xxx+ in adwords – talk about a double standard. I can’t wait until the EU Antitrust commission gets a hold of this little gem too.

WTF Google?

Hey Geordie, I like that you brought this topic up because I feel like a lot of people think having Adsense on your website while using Adwords is forbidden.

In reality, Adsense was never really banned to begin with. You just weren’t supposed to have it on your landing page. Here’s the direct quote from Google:

—————————————–

Fundamentals of the policy

Google AdWords prohibits arbitrage websites that are designed for the sole or primary purpose of showing ads.

Examples of prohibited websites:

- Parked domain sites
- Interstitials on pages that lead to pages of ads or sponsored offers
- Websites whose primary purpose is for users to click on ads that redirect to other sites

Examples of acceptable websites:

- Websites that have more content than ads

———————————————

I think the main point is that you can have Adsense on your site, just don’t have it on your initial landing page. Don’t have a bunch of ads all over the place.

Have a high quality website. Jill Whalen over at the High Rankings blog made a really good point about this in a post the other day… Here’s the gist of what the one section that I’m referring to said:

Since Google doesn’t make money off of organic search results it would be benefitial to them to make the organic results just “good enough” while the paid results included high quality, super targeted, and highly relevant websites…

This way it becomes clear to Google users that if they want the highest quality, they should click on the paid ads which makes Google more money…

Now I’m not saying this is true, I’m just saying it makes a lot of sense, especially if you look at a lot of organic search results in Google compared to the sponsored results.

Regards,
Sean

Hi Sean,

You’re correct, the landing page has always been Google’s main concern relative to the placement of Adsense ads.

Sadly, this same advertiser does in fact place Adsense directly on their landing pages as can be seen here: http://www.designerapparel.com/michael_kors.html?KID=4084173, seen when Googling “michael kors bag” in the U.S.

I didn’t want to call their landers out directly in the post, but you make a valid point about Google leaving some wiggle room in their TOS for advertisers to have Adsense on some pages of their site (perhaps where they receive primarily organic traffic) while leaving it off of their Adwords landers.  

Google also makes subjective statements in their Adwords TOS on affiliate site tolerance, most of which allow for Venture Capital-backed or large brand-promoted thin affiliate sites to run while smaller players get booted.

All of this wouldn’t seem so strange if Google hadn’t spent the last few years on a tireless crusade to ‘cleanse’ the Adwords advertiser pool of all of these tactics – last year for affiliates, two-to-three years ago for arb sites.

As soon as they launched Boutiques.com, it seemed like the rules changed instantly. They had spent a year or two waging war on price comparison sites because they were “bad for users” and now they launch their own price comparison site? $20,000,000,000/year makes everything ok.

It seems one hand isn’t talking to the other at Google. As mentioned, comparision sites are bad for the last few years but now all of a sudden being promoted.
I still believe this is more about small sites vs big sites. Whether it be their organic rankings, Adwords, or Adsense, there are different rules for different people. A large site is free to arbitrage in any way they want. They’re free to break the TOS in placement of Adsense ads. And they can’t be penalized in organic rankings for violations either. So all this talk from Google has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Good post with a nice assessment of the current climate at big G. But this has been status quo for the last couple years there. You and a few commenters have clarified this grey area as much as possible.

Seems like a double standard to me. Interesting write-up!

Good post, really good, thank you.

They never said anything but that Adsense and Adwords was used for the site. Yes they should have created a bunch of links where they outlined the rules of Adsense and Adwords and directed people to the help articles and help forums for information on how not to break the rules. But what I find funny is that affiliate gateway pages and sites are not allowed but yet this is the site they put as their front runner for their proof? Then they get the owner saying how he considers it a rebate on his Adwords spending? I don’t think the PR guys got a preview of the post before it was made else that comment would have been stripped out. Publishers are still being banned for Arbitrage, trust me on this one. Just look around the Adsense help forum and you’ll find many that get their Adsense accounts banned and then tell of how they’re not going to be using Adwords anymore and you find out they were sending traffic from Adwords to pages with Adsense ads on them. So don’t be fooled. Send your Adwords traffic to your homepages or other pages that don’t have Adsense ads on them and you’ll be fine.

I am officially confused. Some people say they are allowed to have adsense on their landing page, and others say their account has been disabled. Ahhhh what to do.

I used YSM & some 2-tier PPC program years ago to bring traffic to Adsense pages. I made about 6K in 2-3 months, and then my account was banned. Someone called me and asked me about my sites’ traffic, they thought the traffic was fake traffic or something, I am sure they didn’t even know where my traffic came from, and then they banned my account.

Adsense has right to ban your account without warning, and their employees have rights to decide whether or not to ban your account, you don’t even know how professional they are.

I mean google doesn’t protect your right man, and when your account banned, you can’t do anything about it because they are so big!

So even now I saw this article I still afraid to do adwords-adsense arbitrage(I have my sister registered a new account).

Before I also did auto-blog method which recommended by many people online, but my account(actually my cousin’s) banned within 3 months and I made zero money(break even).

I mean if you are using arbitrage method, soon or later you need to switch to SEO or some other whitehat method, or you are taking risk.

you’ve always been able to put adsense on your adwords landing pages. Google just want to make sure you have some content on your landing pages rather than just a title and one sentence.

No I am even more confused about using adsense and I questioned Google when they bought out ConnectCommerce and got into the affiliate game since they hated affiliate marketing so much and could not be used in Adwords anyway. You all have helped with your comments but too bad Google will not make this all clear and just tell us the way it is.


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