After being alerted about a paragraph in Yahoo’s new Terms and Conditions by my colleague Kent Lewis, I was in disbelief at what I was reading. Surely it was some kind of mistake, or they had not worded their intentions very well.

I couldn’t imagine they would actually think it would be OK to edit their advertisers campaigns without their approval and then only make an “effort” to reverse the changes if advertisers noticed and requested a reversal in writing. But it is actually true.

I had read on the Webmaster World forums that you could opt-out in writing, but that it wasn’t necessarily guaranteed since you had to agree to the terms and conditions to continue advertising, but I thought I’d better take action anyway.

So here is what I sent to Yahoo via the Customer Support form from within each of my clients’ accounts:

“There is a lot of very negative buzz going around about your new terms and conditions that include the paragraph noted below. I am formally asking you to opt-out this account of any such “optimization” to my ads, keywords, bids or budgets for this account.

“OPTIMIZATION. In the U.S. only, for those advertisers not bound by an Insertion Order, we may help you optimize your account(s). Accordingly, you expressly agree that we may also: (i) create ads, (ii) add and/or remove keywords, and/or (iii) optimize your account(s). We will notify you via email of such changes made to your account(s), and can also include a spreadsheet of such changes upon your written request. If you would like any of such changes reversed, please reply to such email within 14 days of the change(s), and we will make commercially reasonable efforts to reverse the change(s) you specifically identify. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you remain responsible for all changes made to your account(s), including all click charges incurred prior to any reversions being made. It is your responsibility to monitor your account(s) and to ensure that your account settings are consistent with your business objectives.”

Yahoo does not know my customers and what is relevant to us, and you do not have our permission to make changes to this account without me or my clients approving of the changes FIRST. If you want to make suggestions, we’ll happily look at them and consider them, and MAY decide to agree to all, some, or none of them. We do not agree with you making changes on your own, letting us know after the fact, and then not guaranteeing that you will fix any problems immediately (if at all) without charging us. If you insist on doing so, please be notified now that we will cancel our account and transition the budget to your competitors.

Here are a couple of examples of why I will not allow this to happen:
– Your “system” repeatedly denies very relevant keywords and other changes I have tried to make to my accounts. I’ve often had to call and explain why my changes were relevant and then get you to escalate the issue to get approval. In the meantime I’ve had old URLs still listed, perfectly good keywords not approved, misspellings in ads, etc. sitting there on public view while you figure out if I know what I’m talking about.
– You repeatedly screw up acronyms by letting your automated system change them, and then make me and my clients look bad while the incorrect ads are live (i.e. – changing PVCS to Pvcs)
– When I have decided to let you guys do “optimization recommendations” for my clients in the past, you have suggested ads that don’t work for us, changed match types that would have resulted in bidding on untargeted terms, and have even included keywords for things my clients were not selling. Not once have I agreed to your suggestions and let the “optimization” go through.

If you can’t do it right as it is, how can I trust you to do it right without the input or control of me and my clients?

Please respond and confirm that this account is opted out of the “optimization” policy. If not, I will cancel this account and the others I have with you. You will see the same message from my other clients’ accounts when I log in to them and send it to you again for each one.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.”

I am pleased to report that Yahoo did respond quickly via a pleasant email that included the following:

“Thank you for following up with us regarding our Terms and Conditions update. Since you request that we not make any optimization changes in the future, we will note this in your record to ensure that your account is not optimized by our specialists.”

Hopefully they will honor it.

3 thoughts on “Yahoo to “Optimize” My Paid Placement Accounts? No Way!

  1. Thanks for sharing, Tracy. And thanks for calling Yahoo to the carpet! Any evidence of “optimization” against your wishes yet? Any idea if Google and others have similar policies in place or in the works?

  2. Haven’t met a search pro yet that isn’t repelled by this idea of Yahoos “automatic optimization” without an opt-in from the client.

    Is Yahoo out of touch or desperate for revenue?


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