Google’s content advertising network is full of pay-per-click arbitrage ads.
I recently bought a web site about 529 college savings plans (more on that later) and added Google Adsense (NASDAQ: GOOG) ads to it. For the first couple days, almost all of the ads Google showed were for pay-per-click arbitrage sites. Most of these ads had generic descriptions such as:
Looking for information on 529 plans?
Learn more about 529 plans.
Now I realize that Adsense optimizes the ads it shows to maximize your revenue, but I have a hard time believing people will click on these ads more than truly relevant ads for 529 service providers. Here’s a snapshot of some of the ads:
Google punishes ads on its search network if they are arbitrage ads, but lets these ads run on its content network.
The first ad you see for Kidica has an invalid display URL. I can’t click on my own ads, so I copied and pasted the display URL (which leads to nowhere). But I imagine it leads to a page full of ads.
The second ad for 529SavingPlan.net is a page parked at (and perhaps owned by) Marchex (NASDAQ: MCHX).
I decided to filter out some of the worst ads, including one for the-529collegesavingsplans.info, which is parked at Active Audience. I also filtered out a bad ad for JustClickLocal.com, which had a lame ad about finding 529 providers in your area.
Perhaps I should have just let Google work its magic and filter out these ads over time if people didn’t click on them. But I felt like it made my site less valuable to visitors.
And indeed, arbitrage is alive and well.