When Affiliate Marketers Go Too Far
When affiliate marketers are too aggressive with their search engine marketing efforts, the end result is something that just feels wrong. But does having something feel wrong mean it shouldn't be done? If the idea is expected to be profitable and someone else will do it if you don't, should you still not do it? Tough questions with, no easy answers.
Since I can't offer definitive answers, I'll just describe the situation I'm talking about and let you think about it for yourself.
You've hopefully heard of the problems going on in M-y-a-n-m-a-r (dashes purposefully included in there so I can't be accused of trying to rank for the term). If you haven't heard, check out the home pages of your favorite world news provider as I'm sure they've got something there. If they don't, feel free to read this article from CNN.
After reading this I got to wondering if anyone was exploiting the increased search volume and sure enough I found someone that is. Google's paid listings are showing legitimate looking results as are MSN's, but Yahoo has allowed a ringtone provider to have their listing shown. Here's a screenshot of it:
The add is clearly nonsense, but I clicked on it anyway to see what the website displayed (and if I can cost this sort of marketer money I'm happy to do it). Sure enough it's your typical ringtone sign-up page with custom text at the top that matches the search I did plus the word "ringtones".
Google, being as advanced as they are, probably assessed the quality of the page and jacked up this search engine marketer's CPC so high that advertising wouldn't be profitable. Yahoo, on the other hand, seems to be willing to sell anything. Is it any wonder that Google holds the lead and expectations are that it's the better bet for the long-term?
What would be nice is some feedback mechanism. If users could somehow indicate that an ad is of low-quality not only would we as users benefit, but the search engines would too. Advertisers would need to maintain a certain level of relevance or otherwise face being banned. Now isn't that a pleasant thought?