When it comes to brand bidding and trademark abuse, the breaking stories often center around new schemes and tactics. But today we have some more positive news. 5earch.com no longer seems to be actively engaging in search arbitrage. And furthermore, the site doesn't seem to be active at all anymore.
5earch was running a pretty basic search arbitrage setup, for the most part. It would typically place ads on branded keywords, and then take the user to a results page loaded with ads (from the Google Search Network). By covering the SERP with extra ads, 5earch hoped to generate additional ad clicks and thus skim some margin—which is a pretty cookie-cutter search arbitrage setup.
However, 5earch did have one differentiating factor: even its "organic" results were ads! Its top 3 organic listings would all lead to interstitial advertisements on the URL shortener AdFly. If you're curious, we recently wrote up an exposé about AdFly over at PerformanceIn. Basically, AdFly forces the user to view an ad before passing them along to the destination URL. Whenever it sent traffic over to AdFly, 5earch would receive some compensation for the ad impressions it generated.
While that may have been a clever hedge by 5earch, it was definitely a poor user experience. Imagine this pathway:
- User makes a search on his/her search engine of choice
- User clicks on 5earch's ad
- Unsure about clicking yet another ad, the user decides to click the first organic result instead
- The user is then taken to full-page advertisement (which doesn't go away until the user waits 5 seconds and clicks on a special button)
While 5earch may have only been a tiny fraction of the search arbitrage out there, we're glad to see its retirement. It's a positive result, both for brands and consumers. We're also optimistic that this may indicate a changing landscape for arbitrage itself. If 5earch couldn't turn enough profit on it, others may not be able to either. And the less of it there is, the better.