Yahoo Marketing vs Google Adwords (Round 1)

Yahoo Ad
I've been advertising on both the Google and Yahoo ad networks for three weeks. I'll have more to say later on, but I did want to share some notes about Yahoo's "editorial process" regarding what search terms they let you advertise against. This process is allegedly for quality purposes, so that more relevant advertising is displayed to searchers.

Google has taken a more free-market approach to their editorializing of search terms you can advertise against. I'm sure they have a quality-control staff to keep ads clean, but they tend to let you spend your money however you want. I'm no Google fan, but I think Google's approach is far superior, mainly because the market actually does self-correct mispositioned advertising: as people find their advertising for certain keywords isn't working, they pare back the selection of keywords to be more laser-focused. I did this very thing; it works.

Yahoo, on the other hand, voluntarily protects certain company names (though who knows which ones) and is awfully serious about the relevancy of keywords you choose. But it's all so inconsistent and confusing that you never know what they will allow. For example, they apparently allow some misspellings of brand names, but not others. And today I got notice they decided a term wasn't relevant enough to -- which surprised me, since I often describe using the exact term they rejected.

So, I just fired off an email to Yahoo support to see if they can make this situation clearer than the Mississippi mud they've given me till now.

Can you give me more detail as to why you believe the keyword "flea markets" isn't applicable to my company, which is itself an online flea market (

Removing the keyword from my campaign strikes me as an overly aggressive editorial decision, especially after conducting this search on Yahoo and noting NOT A SINGLE AD relates even remotely to flea markets. In fact, mine is the MOST RELEVANT of any company there. Of the most absurd listings you apparently allow, BizRate,, and are advertised on the "flea markets" keyword.

Yes, advertises under "flea markets" but cannot? Come on, Yahoo! I'm trying to like your ad service. I really am. But this sort of random, haphazard enforcement of "editorial rules" leaves me plain confounded.

I have paused my advertising until I receive a response explaining how Yahoo can possibly hope to apply such picky rules consistently.

Kevin Hunt

We'll see what they have to say about's flea market. Mmmmm, makes you hungry just thinking about it, doesn't it?

Update (8/23): Yahoo responded this morning. They explained that because's content is not about flea markets, the keyword is not allowed. Ok, fair enough, if those are the actual rules -- but they're not. That would be stupid. I responded and asked if Amazon would be allowed to advertise with the keywork "book stores," since they have no information about actual book stores. Also, Yahoo's response did not address how a site about restaurants can use the keyword they are disallowing for me. I'm still confused.

Come on, Yahoo! I really want to like you. Granted, this isn't such a big deal in the grand scheme of things; but if I'm to commit an ad budget to you, you'd better clarify your rules and apply them consistently.