Can arbitrage work for a legit media site?

So here’s a question for all you SEO types. Can Geosign-style arbitrage work for a legitimate content site to boost ciruclation or is it inherently doomed because you would have to buy keywords relating to your content in order to attract potential repeat visitors? Are the margins just too thin? Or is there a way to do it?

And yes, I have a certain self-interest here.

2 thoughts on “Can arbitrage work for a legit media site?

  1. Arbitrage is a short-term game.

    Keep the distinction in mind: buying traffic to a site is not the same as arbitrage. You can buy sponsored links on Google (and elsewhere) and people will show up on your site. If you show them something they enjoy, they might bookmark you, and come back again someday for free, blog about you, tell their friends, etc.

    e-Commerce sites do it. They buy traffic and hope to sell products. Then, it’s called marketing, advertising; “conversion”.

    Arbitrage is when you’re not adding anything useful to the transaction except moving people from one market into another. Middleman without the value-add. Slightly distinct from affiliate marketing, except in the Affiliate sales world there is an element of salesmanship involved (but not always). Of course there are blurry lines between each.

    The margins are thin; enough so that to get a profitable CTR you need to land people on pages that are primarily smothered with advertising. Even then, the margin can go from positive to negative without warning.

    It’s not a user experience that keeps people coming back for more. The long-term value of arbitrage is almost nil. Suffice to say it’s not an ideal strategy for branding a legit media site.

    For a legit media site, you’d buy traffic in a similar way you’d would buy a billboard advertisement or a radio ad, and accept that you’re be spending money as advertising to promote your brand. But don’t expect it to be profitable click-for-click like the arbitrage model.

Tell us what you really think