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Old 01-06-2009   #1
Mel66
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YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Yahoo Search Marketing just updated their Terms & Conditions to include this "helpful" service (emphasis mine):

"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."

(Thanks to Barry, aka rustybrick, at Search Engine Roundtable for going through the T&C and calling out what's different, since Yahoo didn't bother to do this for us.)

The way I read this, Yahoo can "optimize" my accounts and make changes without me asking them to do so, and without express prior authorization from me - but I'm still responsible for changes made to my accounts. Huh? Yeah, they'll notify me by email and I have 14 days to "reverse" the changes. How many thousands of wasted dollars can rack up while I'm spending a bunch of time reviewing everything they changed and making them undo it (or undoing it myself)?

Am I the only one who thinks this is absolutely ridiculous? What if I'm running a carefully controlled test, and Yahoo decides to "optimize" it for me, and screws up the whole test in the process?
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Old 01-06-2009   #2
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

this sucks... has to be illegal - could cost a lot of money - no conversion guarantees - just open to change that could run away with budget and no ROI
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Old 01-06-2009   #3
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

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Originally Posted by AussieWebmaster View Post
... has to be illegal ...
That's what I thought too, Frank. Is it really legal to put something like this in the T&C where our usage of their product denotes acceptance of said terms & conditions? Maybe it is, but it's still wrong in my book.
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Old 01-06-2009   #4
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw the first reports. Is there anybody at Y! with half a brain who can protect it from itself. The folks who are left have been through a lot over the past year; this just makes the entire company look like a bunch of asshats (been waiting for a place to use that since the old ThreadWatch days).
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Old 01-06-2009   #5
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

where is msn........ its high time u buy them
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Old 01-06-2009   #6
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

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Originally Posted by jimbeetle View Post
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw the first reports. Is there anybody at Y! with half a brain who can protect it from itself. The folks who are left have been through a lot over the past year; this just makes the entire company look like a bunch of asshats (been waiting for a place to use that since the old ThreadWatch days).
funny that is second use of that term I have seen in 24 hours - Rae Hoffman aka sugarrae used it last night on Twitter
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Old 01-08-2009   #7
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Check your Yahoo accounts, people - one of our client's accounts fell victim to this "helpful optimization" yesterday. 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." Here's what they do to "optimize":

-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.

Bottom line: this is bad, people. I am perfectly fine with suggestions from the search engines on how to improve client accounts. I will be glad to review such suggestions and implement them if it makes sense. I do NOT want to discover live campaigns in my client's accounts that do not fit with client strategy and messaging. Even more importantly, I do not want to get a call from a client saying "hey, I saw this ad on Yahoo for our company - what's up with that ad copy?" when I don't even know anything about it. This puts me in an unacceptable position with the client. Even if I were still doing in-house SEM, I wouldn't want a call from my CEO asking the same question.

All Yahoo would need to do to fix this is to put the new campaign in Paused status, and let me know it's there. I could then review it WHEN I HAVE TIME and append tracking, and then activate it. As it is, I've wasted an hour this a.m. on this silly issue, when I really needed to be doing other things.

Here is the smidgen of good news - it appears you can opt out of this. I called our Yahoo rep and she assured me we would be opted out of auto-optimization in the future.

Like I said - check your Yahoo accounts, folks.

Last edited by Mel66 : 01-08-2009 at 10:05 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 01-08-2009   #8
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

You can bet that I will definitely dispute that crap. I can guarantee that my credit card company won't have any part of this unauthorized bloat liability.

I am hoping that we are misunderstanding this and that it is an "opt-in" only change.

Guess what though, I am going to call them right now and expressly deny any future changes! .... sort of a preemptive strike.

I'll let you know how it goes.

..ok, it looks like you can opt out of it. It's called the "Ad Optimization Program", very painless.

On a side note, they did take the time to tell me that it was mostly there to help people who had very very poor performing keywords to let them know they were throwing money away and to show them what a better targeted ad looks like. He actually knew about what Google does and made a reference to the fact that "we are not going to take a ad for 1965 Ford mustang GT 454" and add the word [car] like google does" <-- I thought that was really funny considering a post I made before with an almost identical reference

Last edited by B-Double-U : 01-08-2009 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 01-08-2009   #9
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

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Originally Posted by B-Double-U View Post
On a side note, they did take the time to tell me that it was mostly there to help people who had very very poor performing keywords to let them know they were throwing money away and to show them what a better targeted ad looks like.
They told me this today, too. One, their metric of "performance" is CTR, which shouldn't be an advertiser's metric for success. Two, I cannot imagine that the ads they created for our client would get any kind of CTR - if you did a search for "buy videos" and you saw an ad for "video rentals," would you click on it??

What a waste of time for advertisers and for Yahoo.
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Old 01-08-2009   #10
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

This type of thing really angers me...

It's just ridiculous that they can get away with things like this... I'm not certain that it is legal, for one.

Secondly, could you imagine if you received a bill from Dish Network, Direct T.V. or your cable company and your bill was double? Then when you call, they tell you that "Based on your watching behavior, we have subscribed you to a HBO, Cinemax and the Playboy channel". There would instant lawsuits and it would make national news overnight.

Of course the playboy channel might not be all that bad, but the rest is totally ridiculous!
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Old 01-08-2009   #11
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

the no tracking code is huge - just throw away the analysis - hey it could show how bad they are and how they are wasting your money
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Old 01-09-2009   #12
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

This just seems like an incredible stupid move on Yahoo's part. Yahoo, you have a legal team and a marketing team, get them together to write client-facing documents like these T&Cs. They may have good intentions (yeah right) but it comes off sounding like "we can hijack your account at any time and you have no recourse."
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Old 01-09-2009   #13
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

thewy are setting themselves up for a backlash on this one
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Old 01-12-2009   #14
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Mel you're precious..I love all the WTFs! This is a big WTF?

This happened to our accounts back in Sept.

After they "optimized" our campaigns and made the changes active they sent an email stating the "good news".

They added generic terms
They created ads with dynamic KW insertion
They did not add any negatives, nor tracking URLS.
They increased bids
They opened up content.
They turned on Advanced match

Like you mentioned there are more concerns than poor performance.
They created ads that suggested we provided certain services which we do not. This is illegal for us to advertise. If a State's Attorney General saw some of these ads we would be in some serious trouble right now; with only Yahoo to blame.

How in the world could Yahoo justify such a move? I would love to have heard what was said in the meeting where this program was decided on!

Google handled this same issue the proper way. Advertisers can click on "optimization this campaign", a bunch of suggestions appear for your account, you review and approve as you see fit.
I usually don't see any value in these auto optimizations, but I gave it a spin and actually found a couple small but nice tid bits I had missed to add.

Yahoo is truly amazing.

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Old 01-12-2009   #15
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

great details Discovery - they are just throwing things up in hopes of making more cash it seems and not thinking of consequences
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Old 01-12-2009   #16
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

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funny that is second use of that term I have seen in 24 hours - Rae Hoffman aka sugarrae used it last night on Twitter
Aha. That's what might have brought it front of mind again. Finally got set up on twitter a day or so before and Rae is one of the folks I'm following to see what the heck it's used for (along with some guy who apparently owns a 'roo).

It's a great term. (And glad I can now follow Rae's rants if for nothing more than the entertainment value.)
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Old 01-12-2009   #17
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Rae Hoffman is an extraordinary woman - great story, great marketer and great friend
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Old 01-12-2009   #18
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Does she do her own news reports on herself in those youtube vids on the site? It's clever and funny.
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Old 01-28-2009   #19
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Update: Yahoo is now calling all of us liars. Yes folks, the SEM bloggers and those they quote in their posts apparently "do not understand" Yahoo's auto-optimization program. Yahoo claims it is designed for "small accounts" and "those who are not actively managing their accounts." Bullcrap. I don't fit in either of those categories, yet Yahoo took it upon themselves to "optimize" my client's account.

This is a slap in the face by Yahoo and adds insult to the injury they've already inflicted by doing "auto-optimization" in the first place. If you thought I was steamed when they did this to my client, you ought to see me now.
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Old 02-18-2009   #20
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Re: YSM - New Terms & Conditions

Great for learning.
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