becomes Germany's search engine no.2 by arbitrage

Sun 26 April 2009 16:28, Evert Veldhuijzen becomes Germany's search engine no.2 by arbitrage

According to research firm Nielsen Netratings has become the second search engine in Germany in the 1st Quarter of 2009. While Google with around 36 million unique users per month on average, reaches the top, out competes it's competitors with 4.2 million users before rivals MSN (4 million unique users), Yahoo (2.5 million unique users) and AOL (1 , 7 million unique users).

"When we started in Germany back in 2006 and announced our goal to be the second biggest search engine, many were surprised. The fact that this goal is already achieved, therefore, pleases us even more," said Isabella Silberberg, director of Germany by Ask. com, about the result.

Now what did do to become Germany's second largest search engine? They bought a lot of Adwords traffic! Showing up to 10 sponsored results above the organic results this model, also known as arbitrage, not only repays itself, but is also very profitable:


Fig. 1: A comparison between German ( and the US version. The German version shows up to 10 sponsored results above the organic search results putting the normal results below the fold.

A look at the Sistrix toolbox, showing over 120000 keywords booked by (maybe it doesn't seem much to you, but remember those are only the ones that the toolbox finds!) and a search at Google Trends for websites reveal Ask's tactic. Under "also visited" you find the biggest German arbitrage projects.

Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing to say against buying traffic with Google Adwords. But I think that "unique users" obviously isn't the right metric for search engine top-lists. How about direct traffic?

Comments (10)


  • How about not only using direct visitors, but also the number of queries per visitor.

    And if you're a good engine, you should have as less queries as possible on each session.

    BTW, this is a shitty user experience, so I guess ASK brings enough money along to compromise the user experience.

    Zo 26 apr 2009, 17:10

  • Roy, thanks for your comment. I can only say: ACK

    Zo 26 apr 2009, 17:12

  • Painfull to see Ask going down. They were once the most innovative and fun search engine.
    Now they make a fool of themselves.

    Ma 27 apr 2009, 11:54

  • @remi but it's good to see Jeeves back!

    Ma 27 apr 2009, 12:07

  • @ Roy,
    Yeah it's great to see Jeevs back. (I was at the 'goodbye Jeeves party' in New York during SES some years ago, that was fun!) But they should also put some of those creative developers back and sack some of the marketing/commercial people.

    A good Search engine is based on good search technology. As long as that's not good enough, they need to invest in it, not in buying irrelevant keywords in Google and then put a million ads above the results. ;-)

    Ma 27 apr 2009, 12:14

  • They are not the number 2 in search engines. Ask anyone in Germany if they use I bet 80% can't even recall a search engine like that. So what's the point? Is it an alternative to Google? No. Without Google they wouldn't even have this traffic.

    Wo 29 apr 2009, 13:13

  • Hi Raffael,

    That's the point of the article. Obviously you can't use unique visitors as a metric to determine what search engine is the biggest. We all know that no one is using Ask as a search engine. That's why I said that in my opinion direct traffic would be a better metric.


    Wo 29 apr 2009, 14:18

    • Henk Dijkstraal

    why are affiliates being kicked of AdWords and is ASK.COM still advertising? Doesn't make sense. The landingpage isn't 'original' at all and doesn't bring the visitor any new valuable content!

    Is it possible to SUE google and use as 'evidence' ;-) ?

    Wo 3 feb 2010, 17:35

  • real time seach engine just launched in german

    Ma 8 mrt 2010, 05:54

  • Interesting that Google Adwords has so much influence.

    Do 16 jun 2011, 22:08


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