Nobody Would Use a Search Engine with Paid Results by Dan Gray

by Shawn Collins on July 7, 2008

The clumsy and lucrative early days of PPC arbitrage

While it’s been a decade, I remember the indignance, clear as day. To some, it might have seemed unjust, mean, or unworthy (to borrow a definition). To others (including yours truly), it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A casino gone mad.

The bank broken… spilling into our pockets.

Once upon a time, Idealab delivered a goose that ate pennies and crapped out ten dollar bills. smacked the search engine world upside the head, turned it on its ear, and spun it around so quickly that all the enlightened could see were dollar signs (and you thought I was going to say stars).

At the inception of pay-per-click search engine marketing, I gleefully bought clicks for pennies and giddily pushed traffic to affiliate programs that paid out crazy terms for new customer bounties.

All was well and good while the milk and honey and bourbon flowed and the VC and IPO money held out, but as the boom turned to bust and the click values rose, it became tougher and tougher to ride those double-digit long shots drunkenly home for ten races every day.

As the temporary insanity and irrational exuberance self-corrected and bid levels rose, I found myself playing the nickel slots less and less frequently.

All that’s left now is the schwag.

The author of the ground-breaking “Complete Guide to Associate and Affiliate Programs on the Net” (McGraw-Hill/1999) and other fine and dusty tomes, Daniel Gray is currently a recovering raconteur and metaphor mixing breakfast cereal Internet entrepreneur.

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