Searching Beyond the Paid

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Yahoo Click Fraud Update

This is an update to my earlier post, "Google, Yahoo and Click Fraud." It's been over 3 months since I first contacted Yahoo about low-quality clicks from their content network. I felt I had some pretty iron-clad evidence - conversion data (lots of clicks, 0 conversions) plus log file data showing 85% of the visitors had a length of "Didn't Stay." In other words, pretty much the definition of click fraud. I forwarded this info to one of the reps I've befriended at Yahoo who's been really helpful in the past. Weeks went by and I heard nothing.

Fast forward to yesterday... I finally heard back from my rep friend. He said the reason it was taking so long was because he'd been rejected by management - twice. They told him there was no suspicious click activity found on our account. Huh??? Keywords that previously were converting, all of a sudden had volumes through the roof, with no conversions, and that's considered "normal"? Please.

To the rep's credit, he fought back a third time, telling them that I'm not an advertiser who cries wolf - he knows I watch these things carefully and back up my claims with data. Here's my favorite bit from our conversation yesterday: he said he told his manager that "if we were sending them thousands of clicks, and they were getting a good conversion rate on those clicks, she'd be glad to pay for it and would be asking for more." Yes! That's the name of the game, isn't it? If I'm getting converting clicks at an acceptable cost, bring it on, baby! As long as they don't break our servers, I'll take all we can get!

All of this brings me to one big question: Why don't the engines take us at our word? I've been with Yahoo for going on 4 years, and have asked for a click refund a total of twice during that entire time. I am not constantly calling them about bad traffic. I spend big bucks with Yahoo for one reason: It works. If a given keyword doesn't produce, usually I just dump the keyword. A formerly good keyword suddenly going bad overnight doesn't fall into that category, though. Something else is going on, and it ain't anything good.

And how does this resistance benefit Yahoo, I ask? I've completely stopped advertising on their content network because of this fiasco. They're not getting my money there any more. And, I've made sure to tell my friends on the various message boards about their turtle-like pace in rectifying the situation. Have they really done themselves a favor here? Wouldn't they rather have me singing their praises? Are they really so big that they don't need my 5 figure a month budget? I'll find out later today, when the rep is supposed to let me know how things came out on his third go-round.


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