I got a bit of flack via email about saying that Google and Yahoo! were killing off arbitrage. I think, more accurately, I should have said something like they are trying to kill off most forms of garbitrage and click to click arbitrage...the type of stuff where there is no value add AND the affiliate has no brand.
CJ just announced that Yahoo! changed their policy and is allowing affiliates to direct link to merchant websites. From the most recent Commission Junction newsletter:
After more than six months in the making and much customer feedback and testing, we are pleased to announce that Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM) has recently updated its editorial policies and will now allow U.S. publishers to direct link to their advertisers. In the past, YSM's editorial policy prevented publishers from linking directly to their advertiser partners and required that traffic be sent first to the publisher's Web site. The new policy eliminates this restriction and opens a much broader search marketing opportunity for publishers.
After you look at the fallout of recent changes, it appears many thin arbitrage sites still are fine advertising, but the ones that are still doing well are typically associated with larger brands. The following arbitrage sites are still bidding on a wide array of keywords
- Business.com is still advertising for many keywords with Google ads aggressively integrated in the results.
- While Ask.com lost their sub-syndication feed, they have arbitrage search results with 15 ads and 5 organic results
- MonsterMarketplace is still getting strong traffic.
A few of the other big arbitrage players like FindStuff.com and Toseeka.com and some other MeziMedia/ValueClick sites still seem to be directing ad traffic to their sponsored search results.
Google and Yahoo can not clean up all the arbitrage at once because that would have hurt the ad networks too much. They started with many of the more open and potentially abusive relationships and will work to keep elevating the value add of partner sites by bringing more content directly into the search results. Consider how aggressively Google integrated local results in their organic search results and that Google is now testing displaying video ads in their search results.
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