Searching Beyond the Paid

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

YSM, You Are the Liar!

Yahoo Search Marketing caused a stir recently when they updated their Terms and Conditions to include "auto-optimization" of YSM accounts. They decided to update one of our client's accounts shortly thereafter, and it was anything but "optimized." I'm quoted in the Search Engine Roundtable post, so I won't reiterate Yahoo's idiocy here.

Now, Yahoo has decided to speak out on the issue on their blog. They sing the praises of this "service" and claim that it "helps small advertisers improve performance issues on their accounts." While that may be true for some advertisers, it was anything but for my client. Then Yahoo has the audacity to say that "not everyone in the blogosphere understands this new program, which we believe is the result of misinformation more than anything else." What?!?!? Misinformation???

Bullcrap. My story is 100% true, and it offends me that they would call it "misinformation." Furthermore, it appears that they went against their own intentions when they took it upon themselves to optimize our client's account: Yahoo claims in their blog post, in bold font no less, that auto-optimization "is not designed for larger advertisers who actively manage their accounts." I manage hundreds of thousands in advertiser spend and have been doing SEM since 2002 (before Yahoo even HAD a PPC program - it was still Overture then). I do actively manage all of my clients accounts. Yet Yahoo felt the need to add a new campaign with ad copy that could have been written by one of my 11-year old twins (wait, I take it back- it wasn't even that good). And they were bidding on keywords that aren't even relevant to my client's offering. It was as far from optimization as it could be.

Yahoo goes on to say that "Advertisers are notified of any changes within 24 hours (usually, fewer than eight hours)." Double bullcrap. I never received any notification that this had been done - I found it by accident when I logged in to "actively manage" my client's account.

Yahoo, you screwed up once by launching this "feature" in the first place. You screwed up a second time when you violated your own principles by doing this to an account that is being actively managed by a professional SEM. You screwed up a third time by calling all of us SEM pros - A-list bloggers and long-time SEMs - liars.

Three strikes and you're out. I shut off Yahoo for this client and many others as a result. It's just too risky and their attitude sucks.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Are You A Search Geek? Take The Test And Find Out

This has been out there for a while, but if you haven't gotten around to taking the Biggest Search Geek test, now is the time - the last day to try your luck is January 28.

It's not an easy test. According to Marin Software and Search Marketing Expo (SMX West), sponsors of the test, the best score as of Wednesday was 76.8%. I didn't do that well, and I've been doing search for a long time. Median score to date (of those answering at least one question) is 33.33%. I did a lot better than that, but still.

According to the test sponsors, "Thus far, the highest scoring contestants have taken the longest to complete the test. There is no time limit, so contestants who are serious about winning should take their time in answering this complex set of questions." This was part of my problem - I took it on a lark and just breezed through. And I still beat the median (grin). The test focuses mostly on paid search, so if you're a PPC pro, you're likely to do well.

There's a nice payoff for a high score: "The winner will receive a free trip for two people to SMX West in Santa Clara, California, February 10-12, 2009. The prize includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and passes to SMX West 2009 for the winner and a travel companion. The winner will also receive an award on stage from Danny Sullivan, and will gain nationwide recognition as the Biggest Search Geek."

Not too shabby. Give it a shot!


Monday, January 05, 2009

It's 2009 - Time To Update Your PPC Reading List

Alex Cohen of Digital Alex has published a list of 26 Useful Paid Search Blogs. If you're involved with PPC in any way, you need to take a look at his list. It's an all-star cast of really good, really useful PPC blogs. I've added a couple from his list to my own feed reader. You should do the same.

Full disclosure: This blog is listed there; however, I'd recommend his list even if it weren't.

Happy New Year, SEM friends!