Search Engines: Friend or Foe Redux

I didn’t believe it when I first saw the blog posts and tweets. People seemed to be reading more into a Yahoo T&C that was possible. It just didn’t make sense that Yahoo would actually make substantial changes – new keywords, new text ads, new ad groups – in their customers accounts. But it turns out not only was it true, but Yahoo had the nerve to come out and defend the practice. Six months ago I wrote about the way paid search advertisers view and think about paid search engines. sullivanYesterday Danny Sullivan – who is not only perhaps the most knowledgeable person out there about the ways of the search engines, but also a very thoughtful and considered writer and thinker – took Yahoo to task for their behaviour.

Advertisers are not idiots, nor are they children. And they got treated that way by Google for years, denied the ability to easily opt-out of programs like AdSense For Content, if they so wanted. You couldn’t do that, because Google was steadfast that offering such options would just be too confusing for those poor little advertisers to understand. Things have gotten better, so for Yahoo to start acting like the Google of old? It’s astounding. Yahoo should have never given itself the right to make changes this way. They should have asked advertisers if they wanted this “service,” to be more transparent and honest with them. They certainly shouldn’t have reacted with a “we’ll do what we want, you all don’t know better” post as they did.

The specific issue at hand is important, and all Yahoo advertisers should make their thoughts known to via their account reps. But the broader point is critical too – in many substantial ways these search engines don’t treat us that well.



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