AdSense became a popular Internet Marketing platform through its two-pronged model of selling keyword based ads and paying outside websites (known as publishers) to host them. Since publishers have found out this is a proven way to generate income, many sites have been developed solely for the purpose of hosting AdSense or Yahoo Publisher network ads. Publishers have discovered that by paying to drive traffic to the site, often through AdWords and AdSense accounts of their own, they can turn a profit when visitors click on the hosted advertisements.
A recent thread at Search Engine Watch Forums clearly identifies and discusses a perceived growing problem of websites solely created for the purpose of hosting ads. The member (by proxy) gets straight to the point about such sites and the links to them:
If you click on them, you will find almost no content, and AdWords ads disguised as menus and content to fool non suspecting users into clicking them and thus making money. It is just spam and outright abuse.When Moderator Frank “Aussiewebmaster” is asked if the system of arbitrage really works, he paints a compelling picture for starting a site that produces additional search results:
.... they pay me say 65% of the click value.... so I take searchers for 10 cent words and send them to a page of results of $2 words in that space... any click is worth $1.30 to me so all I need is one click from every 13 clickers and I break even - two and I make $1.30 etc.
Some future issues associated with search arbitrage were nicely predicted in 2003 by Kevin Lee.