Yahoo Has The Nerve To Change Advertisers Campaigns After Outcry

Jan 9, 2009 - 8:01 am 2 by

This week I reported how Yahoo notified advertisers of a change to their terms and conditions, which explicitly gave Yahoo legal rights to change advertisers campaigns and keywords without permission from the advertiser. In fact, this has been the case since June of last year, but it wasn't noticed by the masses until now.

This caused a major outcry by SEMs this week. Andy Beal felt embarrassed for Yahoo, that they would do this. Loren Baker kind of implied this a way for Yahoo to sneak money from advertisers, without them noticing. And back in June, I was really not happy with this change - who would be.

All in all, we did not hear a peep from Yahoo on the matter. I did not see a Yahoo representative come into a forum to respond. I did not receive a phone call or email from a Yahoo representative on the matter. Nothing from Yahoo, and I am a bit surprised by that.

To make things worse, Yahoo has the nerve to go into a Search Engine Watch moderator's advertiser's account and make changes without telling them. A Search Engine Watch Forums thread reports that Mel, a moderator who knows a heck of a lot on PPC, noticed that after all these reports, Yahoo changed his campaigns. Let me quote you:

I never received ANY communication that this had happened - no email, no call, no nothing. I found out about it when I logged in to YSM and saw a note in the YSM Dashboard saying that "new campaigns had been uploaded."

To make things worse, they made horrid changes to the account, including maxing up the bids to $1! Here are those changes:

  • They upload an optimization into a new, active campaign, with new ad groups and keywords. They do not change current campaigns. Our client's campaign had a daily budget cap of $15 (not a huge deal, except that I don't want to spend $0.01 on something that I haven't seen or approved).
  • The optimization for this particular client was awful - theme & ad copy was super generic, no features and benefits in the ad, looked like the work of someone in their first day at Yahoo. Keywords were even worse. Let's say the advertiser is a video rental store (not the real situation). Yahoo had them bidding on "buy videos" type keywords. WTF??
  • Max bids were set at $1.00. Yikes.
  • No tracking was appended to any of the URLs. We use a proprietary system with keyword-level URLs, and of course Yahoo is not privy to this information. So we have no way to see if the campaign was effective or not.

Back to the WebmasterWorld thread, one advertiser had to plead with Yahoo to promise not to make changes to his account. He described the process as very frustrating, here it is:

I called my rep and asked them to ensure that we would not have any changes made. At first, I was told that accounts could not be excluded. I raised a fuss and was told to submit an email request, to which I received a confirmation that no changes would be made to my account with my permission. Haven't seen any, so I guess they're following the rules.

The good news is that Mel, the moderator, said when she argued with his rep, the rep was very good about "opting" him out of this. She called his "Yahoo rep and she assured me we would be opted out of auto-optimization in the future." So get on the phone and call your rep as soon as possible.

Yahoo, seriously, how can you do this. It is one thing to change the terms and conditions for legal reasons, but to actually go in and make these changes?

No, this is not the first time we have heard rumors of Yahoo representatives "auto-optimizing" accounts, but to "auto-optimize" after the outcry, that just makes things a hundred times worse.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Search Engine Watch Forums.


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