By Dave Zorn
Jun 17, 2008
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Last month Search Mojo’s own Tad Miller blogged about an article featured on Search Engine Land in which Danny Sullivan brought to light an annoyance which has been troubling online marketers for a while now: Yahoo allowing search network pay-per-click ads to appear on a disproportionate number of their search partner distribution network sites. The article More Than Half Of Yahoo’s Paid Search Clicks Come From Partners cites a study by Efficient Frontier that found Yahoo only generates 45 percent of its paid clicks on its own engine’s site. Wow. That means the other 55 percent of clicks are generated on Yahoo’s 1196 (I couldn’t believe that number either, so I double checked it) distribution partner sites.
The annoyance and, in many instances, complaint, online advertisers have expressed is that a majority of Yahoo search network ppc ads are being shown on these partner sites that do not convert nearly as well as Yahoo the engine does. This in itself would not be a problem if Yahoo would simply give us the option of letting us opt out of having our ads shown on these partner sites altogether. Unfortunately they don’t, and we can’t. The best we can do is block 250 of them from showing our ads. 250 out of 1196 is not very much (20.9 percent to be exact, but who’s counting?) and the worst part is that Yahoo doesn’t even provide a complete list as to who their distribution partners are, meaning, we have to go out there and find them ourselves through web server logs and analytics. Or do we?
One rainy morning shortly after this study was released we discovered our local newspaper’s website just so happens to be one of Yahoo’s syndicated search partners. Interesting. One quick search for another newspaper in our area, The Richmond Times-Dispatch revealed that they too are one of Yahoo’s search partners. Even more interesting, someone should look into this. So I did. Turns out Yahoo started a partnership with newspapers that has grown to encompass 646 papers, including 425 dailies. Unfortunately, there is no public list as to which newspapers are serving our Yahoo sponsored search network ads. I have, since discovering this and in my slower moments at work, been systematically searching every state’s online newspaper directories and compiling a list of Yahoo’s syndicated search partner websites. I am up to 135 so far, and only a third of the way through. And that’s only the newspapers. It turns out many television station websites are Yahoo syndicated search partners as well.
So, here is my proposal: If anyone happens stumble across a Yahoo distribution partner site please feel free to post it below and I will add it to the ever growing list and post it in it’s entirety in the near future. Let’s make a pact to work together to compile as many of these irrelevant and poor converting distribution partner sites as possible so that we all will be able to at least block the alloted 250 domains. This way we can save precious time and resources by not having to go too far out of our way to find and exclude these wasteful domains.