New Year -- New Need for Resolution

On Jan. 5, Yahoo notified advertisers of a change in its Terms and Conditions. This change has been receiving quite a bit of buzz in industry forums, and rightly so. The major change is to a section titled "Optimization":


"OPTIMIZATION. In the U.S. only, for those advertisers not bound by an Insertion Order, we may help you optimize your account(s). Accordingly, you expressly agree that we may also: (i) create ads, (ii) add and/or remove keywords, and/or (iii) optimize your account(s). We will notify you via email of such changes made to your account(s), and can also include a spreadsheet of such changes upon your written request. If you would like any of such changes reversed, please reply to such email within 14 days of the change(s), and we will make commercially reasonable efforts to reverse the change(s) you specifically identify. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you remain responsible for all changes made to your account(s), including all click charges incurred prior to any reversions being made. It is your responsibility to monitor your account(s) and to ensure that your account settings are consistent with your business objectives."



So here is the breakdown. Yahoo is now going to help advertisers optimize their campaigns. Yahoo may add new keywords, create new ads and even optimize your account and you are responsible for these changes. Oh, I almost forgot, if you send a request in writing, they will give you all the details of what they changed for you. If you don't like the changes, you are still financially responsible for them; however, they will try to reverse them if you figure it out within 14 days.

There are several issues with this new "added value" term. The first issue is your business objective. When it comes to search engine advertising, there are countless ways to manage and optimize a campaign. It may be as simple as clicks or impressions, but most likely it is much more complex. Sophisticated advertisers are looking at other channels in conjunction with search and most are not using Yahoo's conversion tracking. The main issue here is that in Yahoo campaign settings, advertisers can only choose one of two business objective metrics in Campaign Optimization Guidelines: Impressions or Clicks.

In one post, I read about additional campaigns that were added -- with their own assigned budgets. After some thought and scrutinizing the Optimization verbiage, I assumed that this particular advertiser's account level budget exceeded the sum of the campaign level budgets. This must be what Yahoo means by "...your ensure that your account settings are consistent with your business objectives." And of course, don't forget to set your objective to Impressions or Clicks.

I immediately contacted our agency team and was informed that the optimization changes would not impact our agency accounts, but what about everyone else? It never ceases to amaze me what the search engines can get away with doing. Google automatically opted advertisers into new features like automatic match.  Expanded broad match has turned broad matches into WTF matches -- and now this! I am relieved that the accounts we manage are safe from this unsolicited assistance, but I can only imagine the harm this can do to small and medium-sized businesses. Those small and medium advertisers are exactly the ones that Yahoo so desperately needs to tap into, but this will undoubtedly drive them away.

If you are reading this and have a search engine horror story of your own, I encourage you to share it -- especially, how you handled it. Sharing is caring.

3 comments about "New Year -- New Need for Resolution".
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  1. Steve Baldwin from Didit, January 9, 2009 at 11:45 a.m.

    "Expanded broad match has turned broad matches into WTF matches..."

    Well said! This gave me a chuckle on an otherwise bleak morning.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 9, 2009 at 11:51 a.m.

    It's like the supermarket controlling what is in your cart. Hedge fund anyone?

  3. Jeremy Brown from NA, January 9, 2009 at 3:56 p.m.

    This is actually a change from mid-2008. See here:

    Still, it's good to draw more attention to this.

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