For the last several months, Yahoo has been meddling in advertisers search advertising accounts. On those campaigns that it deems to be underperforming, Yahoo benevolently steps in and "optimizes" those campaigns. Yahoo tries to defend the program on the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog, but its explanation is insufficient.
According to "The Team," the intention is to "make our small- to mid-sized advertisers more successful," and "raise the performance of accounts that are experiencing issues like low-quality quality scores, low lead volume or low click-through rates."
Unfortunately, the way it's implemented has left many advertisers up in arms, for good cause. While it may be successful for inexperienced advertisers, it has caused plenty of distress for many advertisers.
Once Yahoo identifies an account that it believes will benefit from "optimization," it will go in and create new ads for existing ad groups, including multiple ads which it will test against each other. Yahoo will also add keywords that it believes will drive more targeted traffic.
Yahoo says it will notify advertisers of any changes within 24 hours, and the changes are reversible. But several advertisers have said they were never notified, or were notified several weeks later, after a client's budget was already spent on these new ads.
And many advertisers are criticizing the changes that are made, saying that ads were poorly written and new keywords were hardly relevant.
If the program were entirely opt-in -- before the changes were made -- it might be welcomed as a new option to try out. But they're making changes to an advertiser's account, without permission, and without regard for existing client limitations or strategies.
As it stands now, it makes many advertisers question whether they should subject their clients to an ad program that removes any kind of control from their own ads.
UPDATE: Here's some advertiser feedback from around the Web:
YSM, You Are the Liar!, Searching Beyond the Paid
Yahoo Tries To Justify Automatic Account Optimization, Search Engine Land
Yahoo Now Calling Us Liars Regarding Their Auto-Optimization of Campaigns, Search Engine Roundtable
Yo Yahoo! The “Truth” is, Your Search Marketing Changes Suck!, Marketing Pilgrim
Yahoo! Is Justifying Automatic Account Optimization!, PageTraffic Blog
YSM - New Terms & Conditions, Search Engine Watch Forums
Yahoo Is Stealing Your Money, Marketing Don
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!