Mar 52009

Quality Score Whore: Buying Adwords Accounts?

I just received a very strange email asking if we have any Adwords accounts for sale. The buyer was willing to pay "$300" for any old accounts that filled his requirements.

This is probably a scheme to purchase accounts with some history and no red flags for Quality Score purposes. But why would someone want so many? What's the point? @TheDaveCollins pointed out on Twitter that it could be an attempt to capture valuable keyword and conversion data, but it seems like an awful lot to spend for that information. Tools like SEM Rush, MSN Adcenter and Google's own Traffic Estimator and Compete work fairly well already. And using them is either free or significantly cheaper than buying multitudes of Adwords accounts.

Ironically, this shady character wants to spend $300 for accounts that have been spending "at least $100-200 a day for some time." Somehow I doubt advertisers with budgets of $3000-6000 a month are going to give up their accounts for $300... but maybe that's just me.

Here's a screenshot of the email from Gmail, with the culprit removed:

Buying Adwords accounts is shady

Anyone else see these emails? What are they playing at?


9 Responses to "Quality Score Whore: Buying Adwords Accounts?"
Gavin says:
I've got two-cents to chip in here... Not knowing a competitor's bid is the big obstacle to determining a precise relationship between the 8 undifferentiated bullet point factors in Google's Quality Score equation. If one were able to find two (or more) Adwords accounts with ads appearing for the same keywords, with competing Ads from each that ranked one above the other...and by knowing the max bid for each, one would have a much better idea of the relative contribution of quality/relevancy factors to the real time quality score.
Ben Rogers says:
I got the same email just recently - the author admitted they were just looking for accounts with strong history. Pretty much the same email as you show above. Needless to say we refused on the grounds of confiedntial client data being in the accounts.
Adam Audette says:
@Gavin great point! I can see how that could allow someone to reverse engineer QS, compare factors at play between advertisers, etc. Seems like a lot of work, and of course Google can and will change the rules continuously. It's probably more about trying to cheat the system than anything else.
Adam Audette says:
Looks like this may just be a phishing attempt for CC info:
The Potential for Evil This posting should give you a clue about just how great the potential for evil is in Google's hands... If you consider just how many businesses are using AdWords, AdSense and statistics -- and how much data is harvested from those operations -- it should make your hair stand on end. Google KNOWS without a shadow of a doubt EXACTLYwhat people are searching for. Thanks to these other programs, they know EXACTLY what the conversion rates are for these keywords are, how much the value of the sale is, etc. etc. etc. Until now, NOBODY else has had this kind of 'intelligence' available to them. Think about it. Imagine how much money you could make knowing all this information -- and it spans not only products, but also services, real-estate -- you name it. Any kind of 'filter' or 'trigger' could be developed. Simple example, Google decides to watch for a burst in search queries for 'real estate in key west' -- and linking that to other news/information about the area -- then, while people are just searching about it -- to go in and scoop up a few properties -- flipping them around for a huge profit when the searchers become buyers. The most simple example (and with data that they already have and don't have to massage in any way whatsoever) would be to look at move in on products or services that have the highest profitability. They already KNOW that information because you dummies happily provide them with your costs and sale prices and full statistics on conversion rates. Imagine if you knew, with absolute certainty, over billions of searches that product X earns a profit of Y% and has an average conversion rate of Z. But not only knowing that for one product -- but for TENS OF THOUSANDS of different products and services. How long would it take for you to turn that knowledge into billions of dollars by not only exploiting, but also manipulating markets through complete and total control over search results? The most sinister part is simply that you'll never know. Everything and everybody in Google's 'skunkworks' is covered by the most amazing NDAs and employment agreements imaginable -- fully supported and working in conjunction with everyone from Homeland Security to the CIA. (Don't believe it -- think about how/why Google's 'Party Jet' (Boeing 767-200) and other aircraft have access to a US Government airfield that no other private or commercial entities do.) Google's private jet parked in Nasa's backyard Of course, those 'scientific instruments' and staff placed on the party jet couldn't possibly have ANYTHING to do with any OTHER government agencies -- would they? Nor would it be likely that the IP addresses and user names of people searching for certain 'sensitive' couldn't possibly be turned over to those agencies either.... Hmmmmmmm... Knowledge is power -- and Google harvests more knowlege in 5 minutes than anyone else on the planet could harvest in 5 years. Think about it...
I think it's all about the presumed QS that can be transferred over from your old/dormant account. If you've had an account for two years or more (and paid them), you automatically have QS by virtue of being a paying customer. You can wipe your credit card information from the account and use a dummy in the interim, and I am under the impression that you would not be able to access the past credit card information, even if it was your own. Perhaps I'm not thinking about this from a sinister standpoint of scraping keywords and credit card information, but I believe that they're after the transferred QS more than anything.
I'm wondering if perhaps it's not a ploy to get around the fact that you can't have more than one AdWords account to your name. Perhaps this will allow them to place more than one ad on the first page of google. Which, if they could and they had the ability to mess with landing page design they could drive quality score as well as bid prices, etc. As we all know BH will only work for so long before Google finds out. And Google always finds out. Thanks for the heads up on this.
John says:
I have also received similar e-mail, - but I never took it seriously and thought they were SPAM or phishing attempts just like those like Paypal/lottery SCAMs. It is better not to even think of it seriously.
matt says:
They are looking for accounts with quality score history and accounts past the initial budget reviews. This is well worth the money for people who spend a lot on AdWords and burn through accounts. Speaking of which, if anyone wants to sell their accounts to me, I will also pay for them for the same reasons!

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