My friend Art beat me to the punch this week by referencing a Washington Post article...
on a suit by Newark, NJ-based Crafts by Veronica against Yahoo. I was originally going to reference the Star Ledger article but a combination of the two will work fine.
It seems that Crafts by Veronica brought a class action suit against Yahoo Search for search engine syndication fraud. They claim that Yahoo allowed the ads to appear on dubious sites and to show-up in pop-ups.
According to the Star Ledger article, Ben Edelman () said "these advertisers paid a premium price for their ads to be shown on Yahoo, but instead, they're being shown on the sleaziest of spyware and other unsavory places."
Hmm....seems like trouble in the land of Yahoo. Courtesy of the WashingtonPost, you can find a copy of the lawsuit here.
Ok, so what does this mean?
Simply: be very, very careful when you run in the content targeting section of Yahoo and Google. I'm not saying that all content is bad, but you have to watch what you are doing.
Almost all search campaigns that I run either have the CPC for content set at about 10 cents or shut off altogether. What I frequently find is that my campaigns that run in content generate a ton of clicks with very little conversion; they also coincedentally have a ton of impressions. I'm not saying it is click-fraud, but when you get a ton of impressions, a ton of clicks, and few conversions you have to be smart about using it. Plus, the other aspect of content targeting I can't stand is the lack of visibility into where the ads are running and which ones are working.
As I've written before, the best way to safe-guard yourself, though it is not 100%, is to:
1. Always use post-click conversion tracking codes so you can measure your true cost per sale; don't just rely on cost per click.
2. Pay close attention to content, you'll probably find that you generate a ton of clicks with little sales. If that's the case, turn on separate bids for content versus search. If a search company does not have that feature, turn it off altogether.
3. Investigate using a big management solution like Did-it.com (I've used them) or the bid management solution from Atlas. It is the only way I know of to actually see some of the referring URLs - again, not 100% but more visibility.
Almost all search campaigns that I manage either have content turned off or much lower cost per click bid amounts; that, combined with the conversion tracking codes allow me to have more control over content.
Content targeting is like being on Atkins and going to a Brazilian BBQ restaurant; sure it tastes good in low amounts, but if you eat too much meat all you'll end up with is a huge belly ache.
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