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May 18, 2007

Google AdSense disabling arbitrage publisher accounts as of June 1st

Numerous AdSense publishers have been receiving emails from Google the past couple of days stating that their use of their AdSense account is an unsuitable business model and that accounts would be disabled as of June 1st, giving publishers about two weeks notice to prepare for the loss of the AdSense accounts... and since it seems that arbitrage publishers are the ones receiving this account disabled email, to give those publisher enough time to shut down accounts or use an alternative source for their outgoing traffic.

Right now, I have only heard from those doing either "Made for AdSense" style of sites or those doing arbitrage, and it does include publishers making significant money per month ($10,000 USD and higher). So they are not giving a pass to those who are earning above a certain threshold. And it seems that no one who is outside of the arbitrage/MFA area of AdSense earnings has been affected thus far.

And good news is that Google will be paying out earnings to those publishers, so they do not need to worry that they will lose any income earned thus far.

Now, the emails do seem to be staggered, so if you are running arbitrage through your AdSense account, there is always the possibility that you can stop all your pay per click campaigns and hopefully slide through. Likewise, you can try immediately increasing the quality on your "Made for AdSense" style sites or remove them completely, particularly if you do have sites within your account that are non-arbitrage with quality content. But one can assume that account history will play a big part when it comes to these emails being sent out, and having only a couple of non-arbitrage days might not be enough to avoid the email.

There doesn't seem to be any appeal process, other than the usual one. And I wouldn't hold my breath that any of these accounts would be reinstated, unless it is a case of some higher quality non-arbitrage sites using the account as well.

From a business perspective, it does make perfect sense for Google to make this move, since so many Google AdWords advertisers refuse to advertise on the content network because there are so many "Made for AdSense" style sites as well as those doing arbitrage. So in the long run, it could mean more money for publishers if/as advertisers return to the content network.

And if you are not doing MFA or arbitrage? The bad news is that you too will be impacted, although not on an account disabling level. A secondary impact to this is that many of those doing arbitrage with AdWords will likely be pulling their AdWords campaigns unless they can find a suitable alternative to AdSense. This could inadvertantly cause a reduction in AdSense earnings for legitimate publishers as well, at least in the short term. But as I said previously, if the advertisers return to the content network, it would mean more eventual money for publishers, depending on how long it takes for advertisers to start opting back in.

Since Google seems to be targeting the whole area of arbitrage (such as the landing page algo for the AdWords quality score that made it harder for arbitrage advertisers to get cheap clicks through AdWords), I think the way they are handling these instances of disabling publisher accounts is much better than what they could have done. Publishers are getting a couple of weeks notice to ensure they aren't sending paid traffic to pages that will no longer be allowed to show AdSense, and they have also guaranteed to those publishers that they will still receive earnings earned, even though the accounts will be disabled.

It will be interesting to see what happens as of June first. Will the Yahoo Publisher Network see a sudden influx of aribtrage publishers? Very likely, since the majority of disabled US publishers turn to YPN as a new method of monetizing that traffic.

There has not been any kind of official word from Google on this, as of yet, other than the form letter style communications with the publishers whose accounts are being disabled. But it will definitely be something to watch to see how it does all spin out for both the disabled publishers as well as Google.

Feel free to comment below if you have been affected, or if you think it is a good/bad move that Google made by disabling publishers.

Added: Digg it here.

Posted by Jenstar at May 18, 2007 06:01 PM

Comments

Thanks for sharing Jen! Very informative, and I believe this will change things drastically for both publishers and advertisers.

Posted by: Jean Costa at May 18, 2007 11:23 PM

Interesting, but I'd like to see it really happen, if it does then yes our earnings will increase.

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 11:31 PM

I'm not sure if my definition of arbitrage is correct but I thought it was buying cheap traffic from another network such as MSN and driving it to thin content MFA sites - basically just adsense ads?

In this instance - how do Google know where the traffic is coming from?

So if the crackdown is on thin content / mfa sites then what about Parked pages? These have to be the biggest MFAs out there? But all parking page providers must have premium publisher accounts to be able to throw up a page full of ads with no content. So are these premium publishers next on the hit list...

Posted by: Bob Sheth at May 19, 2007 12:56 AM

What great news :-)

Hopefully this crackdown on MFA sites is not just a one off.

Also if they really wanted to discourage MFA sites than Google should have kept any unpaid earnings and returned them to the advertisers whose money was wasted rather than paying out and keeping their % cut in profit.

Posted by: Neerav at May 19, 2007 01:40 AM

It is not the end of Adsense, those accounts being banned are mostly (so i am tolled) for those arbi pages that only have links on them and no real content.

And i am also wondering about James sad about the parked pages, my guess (and that is what it is) is that G i coming down on MFA sites that have no or automated content

Posted by: Klaas at May 19, 2007 02:00 AM

They threat AdSense publishers not really good - this will crash their PR.

Posted by: tworzenie stron www at May 19, 2007 03:08 AM

The major take away from this for me is that good content is king and will withstand all of these changes now and and the ones to come.

Give Google and other SE's good content from the start and you wont have to scramble to change your business model with a 2 weeks notice.

Posted by: Kyle M Brown at May 19, 2007 03:44 AM

Finally it seems that this will be end of adsense arbitrage and MFA sites.

Google should find a way to return some of the money to advertisers.

Posted by: baki at May 19, 2007 04:25 AM

That's a big move of GG after have been criticised for effects of MFA ,compare to good content network.

Posted by: dochost at May 19, 2007 07:56 AM

This is great news, and (in the long-run) i think it is for the best. Take a look at the DP forums and you'll see all the posts about MFA's ruining the internet and putting the blame on Google. Hopefully this will help make the Internet a nice place again :-)

Posted by: Mr. Grown Up Geek at May 19, 2007 08:14 AM

So they cant do anything about it in their search algo, so lets come at it from the other, easier side.

Also can they define MFA? If i have some data and I decide to churn that into a structured site, simple to put adsense on it, is that really an MFA site. There are many shades of grey.

They are gonna shoot themselves in the foot on this one.

Posted by: ukgimp at May 19, 2007 09:20 AM

Good news Adsense gona pay more money to non MFA site

Posted by: cpc-cpm-cpa.com at May 19, 2007 10:11 AM

Yes - thanks for sharing on this Jen. This is probably one of the lesser newsworthy things they've done lately - but also one of the most impactful. I don't advertise on the content network because of the large volume of garbage - as you noted in your post. If they clean up their act, I'm happy to start sending my $4+ a click ads back out onto the content network again. A few other folks start doing that and all of a sudden adsense starts paying out a lot better than it did before (perhaps).

Posted by: wheel at May 19, 2007 10:58 AM

Well Jen:

I love ya and everything but I find it a coincedence that you decide to post this the same day as I did on my blog?

http://mubinahmed.com/made-for-adsense-sites-dead-made-for-textlinks-in/

I just think that it is either really freaky, or we both talk to the same cats in our sleep.

Posted by: Mubin at May 19, 2007 11:16 AM

Sounds like a good move on Google's part, and about time they did something about the plague of MFA sites.

Posted by: Dan at May 19, 2007 01:22 PM

I am glad to hear this, and I hope Google follows through with its promise. There's just too many junky / spammy sites out there that rank well in SE Results, pushing the rest of us down. If Google truly means it and will treat all of their adsense accounts the same, no matter if they're big or small, then their SERP quality will certainly rise in the long run.

Posted by: AJ Credit at May 19, 2007 02:09 PM

In my book, ANYTHING Google can do to return to the original intent of Adsense is a good thing. The system has been open to manipulation for so long it's sickening.

For me, value and uniqueness are the only valid reasons to have a site. I'd love to see everyone who doesn't offer these things just pack their bags and head on home.

The junk sites have cost all of us who do it "the right way" a great deal. My Adsense income is half of what it used to be...yet my traffic and content are still consistently high. I don't know who is responsible for that...or maybe it's truly just the ups and downs of an economy. But when I see the SERPs filled with these crappy false business models, I can't help but believe they have played a role...if only by forcing advertisers to become more self-protective when spending their ad dollars.

Posted by: Chuck at May 19, 2007 03:31 PM

>mubin

Not sure I follow, never even heard of your blog until now, and yours has nothing to do with the numerous publishers receiving emails that their accounts will be disabled June 1st.

I am guessing you are that desperate enough to get any traffic to your blog that you are trying to imply both here and at DigitalPoint that I am copying you, simply because we both happened to mention AdSense in the same blog post on the same day.

Posted by: Jenstar at May 19, 2007 03:51 PM

I think it's a good start on Google's part. Now if they get rid of the parked domain shenanigans too--I think that would bring legitimacy back to the table.

Posted by: Terry at May 19, 2007 04:10 PM

http://www.shoemoney.com/2007/05/19/adsense-arbitrage-just-the-facts/

Posted by: Thanks at May 19, 2007 06:09 PM

Jen, why are you assuming that this has anything to do with arbitrage? I've read hundreds of postings on various forums and not a single one would suggest anything other than being an MFA issue.

You indicate that the people you've heard from who received the email were MFA/arbitrage. Do you know of any arbitrageurs who are not running MFA sites who received the email?

Posted by: Sheryl at May 19, 2007 08:03 PM

What is arbitrage?

Posted by: ttt at May 19, 2007 08:44 PM

Sheryl, many of the people I heard from who detailed their business model were using arbitrage - by sending cheap PPC traffic to sites in hopes the visitors would click an AdSense link (or another exit traffic program). That business model is called arbitrage, and that is what AdSense is seemingly having an issue with at the moment.

Essentially, any site with AdSense with the goal of wanting as much PPC traffic on the site to leave via an AdSense link as is considered "made for AdSense". PPC is how many "made for AdSense" sites get traffic to those sites, but obviously using AdSense for exit traffic. However, arbitrage can also be a successful business model while using other programs for their exit traffic (YPN, Overture/YSM feed, Ask, etc).

I am thinking you might be confusing the arbitrage business model with simply bringing traffic to your site with AdWords (or any other PPC program). If you are just bringing traffic to the site with the goal being increased visitors who have multiple page views, who make a sale, or complete an action such as a registration or subscription, then you have nothing to worry about. But that is not called arbitrage.

Posted by: Jenstar at May 19, 2007 09:12 PM

sheryl, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price differential between two or more markets. Buy low from one market and selling high at another market.

Posted by: hanneng at May 20, 2007 03:28 AM

That is really an important piece of news. Thanks for sharing, Jen

Posted by: DarrinW at May 20, 2007 04:26 AM

This will make it harder on advertisers to buy cheap content clicks. I think my site was a more legitimate arbitrage site. I bet this hurts Google in the long run but will end up helping out Yahoo.

Posted by: mysearchisover at May 20, 2007 08:58 AM

Yeah! I think the one who migt affected the most is the one page domain where there is almost no choice for the surfers rather than to click on the adsense link or close the browser or go back to the previous page.

This kind of page is so effective for the adsense publisher but don't have real content.

Posted by: ronn at May 20, 2007 10:10 AM

Jennifer

I am one of the founders and CEO of Tumri, an Advertising and Merchandising network that was launched recently. We provide publishers with an alternative that is complementary to Ad Sense. We have an interactive Ad Unit that makes publisher's site "Legit" and provides vistors with a useful ecommerce experience. Any of your publishers who are concerned about loosing revenues from Google should try out Tumri AdPods at http://publisher.tumri.net

regards
hari

Posted by: Hari Menon at May 20, 2007 11:09 AM

This is great news to those who provide real value to people

Posted by: Jason at May 20, 2007 12:48 PM

Good news Adsense gona pay more money to non MFA site

Posted by: ip adres at May 20, 2007 04:16 PM

It could be worst Jen It could of been you. The money is just too easy for these arbitragers and they will most likely just start more accounts but google will have to come up with a faster banning stick.

Posted by: Google Arbitrage at May 20, 2007 06:35 PM

Interesting!

Will this apply also to the BIG sites like www.consumersearch.com and others?

I see their ads on some of the content sites and when you check their site, you are greeted by shopping.com ad on top, google adsense everywhere and even chitika ad at the bottom.

Posted by: Tomaz Mencinger at May 20, 2007 08:49 PM

Hi Jen,
Good post.

Could you please make a fairness assessment about how this is handled by Google AdSense?

Many webmasters who will now be kicked out are decent webmasters who work on many different business models - like yourself.

Some have tried some arbritage and perhaps gotten a bit carried away by it.

My problem is that Google is kicking webmasters out in the cold, en mass, forever. Is this fair?

Some of these webmasters are your most loyal readers and followers.

We are now counting on you to make a fairness assessment and possibly stand up for us against a mighty hard hand.

I am hoping you will stand up for us, to say out loud that these webmasters deserve a second chance.

Thank you.

### This could be your finest hour. ###

Posted by: Stand Up For Webmasters at May 21, 2007 12:12 AM

A very good move provided that they treat the "real" publishers fair and do not close any accounts accidentally.

Honestly I am very glad, because:

less low quality publishers => context advertising looks better for advertisers => higher prices for content ads.

michal

Posted by: michal frackowiak at May 21, 2007 05:41 AM

I'm affected on both sides of the fence by this. On the one hand, I do occasionally see sites I have Adsense implemented on show what is clearly an MFA ad.

On the other hand, I see the potential for more advertisers as quality ocntrol becomes more and more of a factor.

My hunch is that all the MFA spammers will end up going to AdBrite. AdBrite doesn't require any manual verification of sites (Google at least requires some verification initially) so it's an easier target.

Mind you, a lot of the MFA types could set up a "legitimate" site to try and land another GAS account and then turn around and use the same account on more MFA sites. If big G is ultimately going to solve this problem, they need to verify all sites that the ads are displayed on, not just all accounts. An automatic verification wouldn't be overly difficult either; they've got most of the spam filters in place with their search. Just port the things over and away you go.

Posted by: Adam Senour at May 21, 2007 07:31 AM

Thanks for sharing this information. Anyway we should wait until june 1st have a official word from Google.

Posted by: Arun at May 21, 2007 07:50 AM

I think Shoemoney presents an more accurate picture of the situation. Kudos to Shoemoney:
http://www.shoemoney.com/2007/05/19/adsense-arbitrage-just-the-facts/

Posted by: wes at May 21, 2007 10:45 AM

what I find interesting is that they know the problem. yet they beat up on simple people like my friend who was innocently banned from adsense. yet big fruad culprits are given time and still recieve their ill gotten cash.
Doesn't the rule apply to every one - a made for adsense page does go against the almighty rules of the 800 pound google gorilla doesn't it?
to be honest - I don't expect much from google. The do no evil company will continue to allow some to do evil.....

Posted by: W.Medina at May 21, 2007 11:55 AM

OMG, I add this news on my blog, 10x.

Posted by: validotcom at May 21, 2007 12:18 PM

I hope that eBay is top of the list of banned sites - I have never seen a case where getting an eBay ad is a reasonable context sensitive ad.

Posted by: jon at May 21, 2007 01:39 PM

Google have made so much money they simply didn't know what to do with it all.That treasure-chest of billions they have will come in very handy for lawyers fees in the coming years.

Posted by: Content May Differ at May 21, 2007 04:02 PM

Holy Jesus! Google is actually doing something non-evil! I thought it would never happen!

I'm going to take down my Larry Page dart board and put away my Sergey Brin voodoo doll.

Posted by: John Dalton at May 21, 2007 07:20 PM

This is they kind of thing that makes me like Google. They realize that letting site owners run ads to drive traffic to their sites and making a profit from those users clicking ads has little to no benefit to those that are searching, and tends to cut other those that have good content sites from earning some cash. But it won't really stop the arbitrage, the site owners will just turn to other sources of traffic and probably spend even less on 2nd and 3rd tier sites. This will work for a while until the conversion numbers for advertisers drop and then the advertisers or Google will start filtering out the sources of non-converting traffic. So you know what happens then, don't you? That's right. The arbitragers will start finding ways to trigger conversions if they can.

The only answer to this mess and that of click fraud is to go to a bid for placement, flat rate system something like what Adbrite has been doing for some time now, and what some sites do in selling links. You pay once and then get whatever clicks your ad can generate. No arbitrage and no click fraud.

Look for Google to do this at some point. Their "Site targeted" option was a first step, but is open for "impression fraud" and so not a perfect answer. The bid for placement system could be for a month, a week, a day, or even for an hour at a time. I hope what happens that we will have a choice of offer ads as a bid or just set the amount of the flat rate ourselves and maybe be able to select a lower bidder that has ads that better match what we would like to run on our sites. After all, money isn't everything...

Posted by: Chris Nielsen at May 21, 2007 07:44 PM

The real news here is that it was not already considered abuse and that Google has not previously been banning people! I had assumed they have been trying to weed these sites out. And to give them time to change and payouts!? They tarnish peoples view of AdSense as well as ruin the regular search results. I'm not a google basher and usually am annoyed when people say they are only profit driven. But this really changes my opinion about them.

Posted by: MSG Quixo at May 21, 2007 09:18 PM

Some publishers say that their account would be disabled if they don't remove AdSense-ads or make changes on their websites. Are there different notifications from Google or did I miss something?

Posted by: Marco at May 22, 2007 05:08 AM

thanks for sharing. this is a very important news!

Posted by: spy phone at May 22, 2007 06:33 AM

What can you call a MFA site, all of my sites that have adsense on them. Have a heavy load of information and are not spammy but do have strong keyword usage..

""There's just too many junky / spammy sites out there that rank well in SE Results, pushing the rest of us down""

You call them spammy, we took the time to learn SEO. Your not on top, because your not trying hard. Getting on top of search engines is hard. Because its not like we are using black hatting techniques I mean I have stolen keywords by back linking it up. And sure I will steal a keyword if it is worth it for me :D

Posted by: Vasity at May 22, 2007 08:15 AM

It's about darn time; it's sad that these types of made for advertising sites clog up natural search results and push real websites for goods and services lower in the food chain. girlfriday@research-resource.com

Posted by: girlfriday at May 22, 2007 09:05 AM

Kudos to Google for *finally* doing something about a long running problem. Yes, we may feel the initial impact, but I am confident that "this too shall pass" and the Google world will come out the better for it.

Posted by: Matt Keegan at May 22, 2007 03:24 PM

Great for Google. Hope Yahoo follow suit. I hate paying for ads only to realize that my traffic is from arbitrage websites. Every time I advertise, I only choose for my ads to show up on the search engines. I think there is a lot of click fraud with these arbitrage websites. One company that tried to rip me off was Miva.com. I decided to give them a try and within a few minutes my money was gone. I got excited thinking I'm getting traffic. When I looked at my logs, 99% of the visitors didn't go pass the first page and 99% of traffic came from arbitrage sites. I even got traffic from a site claiming that they'll pay you to click ads. I got so upset with Miva.com, I demanded my money back. When I threatened to got to the Better Business Bureau they immediately gave me a refund!

Posted by: Patrick at May 22, 2007 04:30 PM

I've been marketing online for 11 years now...and I have the gray hair to prove it.

Back in 96/97 we could throw up a page and rank in the top 20 in Alta Vista within a couple of days. The tough part back then was monetizing traffic.

Today the game seems to be getting harder and harder for the little guy both from a traffic generation perspective and a monetization perspective.

It really is survival of the fittest. Evolve, get smart and think long term or stare at the mailbox wishing a check from Google would arrive that just isn't coming...

Posted by: David Ledoux at May 23, 2007 11:14 AM