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May 02, 2006

MySpace.com and Yahoo Publisher Network apparently don't mix

MySpace has long been a marketing tool and a great way to drive traffic to other sites or advertising. But if you happen to be monetizing with MySpace and using Yahoo Publisher Network, you may get your account suspended, even if you have non-MySpace sites on your account as well.

On Friday, multiple publishers received either phone calls or emails from YPN advising them that their traffic quality was low and their accounts would be suspended as of May 1, 2006. Affected publishers would still receive their earnings - less any invalid or international clicks - so they would not be losing all their income (as usually happens when someone is suspended from AdSense).

For those who received the letter instead of the phone call:

Hello {Publisher Name},

I have attempted to reach you personally to discuss this matter but the phone number we have is invalid.

As part of our efforts to ensure high-quality traffic for advertisers on the Yahoo! Publisher Network, we continuously monitor publisher attributes such as:

1. Sources of their traffic, including its geographical distribution.

2. Suspicious click activity.

3. Advertiser conversion rates.

4. Overall quality of leads generated on your site.

Unfortunately, due to poor traffic quality, we will be terminating your Yahoo! Publisher Network account ID as of end of day, Monday, May 1, 2006. In accordance with Sections 6(a) and 6(b) of the Yahoo! Publisher Network terms and conditions, we will not include clicks from non-U.S. users or otherwise invalid clicks in your payment. We have refunded amounts generated from the non-U.S. users and otherwise invalid clicks to our advertisers and will pay any remaining amount owed to you in accord with the Terms and Conditions.

It has long been known that source of traffic can result in an AdSense suspension, but this is the first time it has been known that either AdSense or YPN has been targeting not only a single specific source of traffic, but also one that is somewhat legitimized as being a true site... as opposed to the "get 20,000 visitors to your site for only $19.99" variety that is usually targeted for being poor quality.

However, this definitely opens up questions about what other sites that YPN will target next? Will all social networking type of sites be targeted? Or was MySpace a notable exception. But it definitely seems that users monetizing MySpace through YPN were definitely targeted, since all were contacted Friday with their accounts being suspended on the following Monday.

But it also raises the question of why these publishers were allowed to keep their ads running for a few days following the decision? Perhaps to do the right thing and allow publishers the opportunity to have a few days to switch over to another program without losing several days of revenue. But it does seem odd that they have decided these sites were not monetizing well for their advertisers, yet they will continue to allow the ads to be run for a few more days.

Also interesting is the fact that this decision was made hot on the heels of the New York Times article about MySpace.com, which was published earlier in the week. One of the things discussed was monetization of MySpace and how the company had tested both Google and YPN ads within the social network.

A sign of that challenge is seen in Mr. Levinsohn's effort to expand the use of text ads — the rapidly growing format pioneered by search engines. He has been running tests with Yahoo, Google and several smaller ad providers and has sought proposals from them for longer-term deals.

The answer he received was a shock. Not one of them, not even the mighty Google, was sure that it could provide enough advertisements to fill all the pages that MySpace displays each day, Mr. Levinsohn said. The search companies did not want to dilute their networks with so many ads for MySpace users, whom they said were not the best prospects for most marketing because they use MySpace for socializing, not buying.

The article also states that MySpace only gets slightly over $0.10 CPM ($0.10 per one thousand impressions) across the network, which is extremely low. Perhaps there were discrepancies between this figure and what advertisers were paying on single MySpace profiles that caused the initial look into MySpace in the first place.

There are no reports of AdSense following suit, and in fact, some publishers who have been now suspended from YPN have switched over to AdSense in their efforts to monetize their MySpace traffic. However, with YPN publicly suspending because of the MySpace connection, AdSense could very well follow suit or at least look at individuals monetizing this way to identify those who are providing quality traffic versus those who are not.

As for MySpace, it does bring up an interesting situation for how they monetize, especially with such high page views, many which are from users that are not inclined to click ads. Will YPN's decision affect MySpace's ability to use YPN themselves in the future? They definitely have some tough challenges ahead to raise the bar and increase their CPM as well as other avenues of monetization. I am one who would love the opportunity to monetize a social community site such as MySpace because of the unique challenges it brings along with the unique placement possibilities. MySpace will definitely be one to watch in the future for how they tackle this issue.

But for publishers using MySpace, definitely be warned to watch the quality of your traffic.

Forum thread at DigitalPoint.

Posted by Jenstar at May 2, 2006 06:58 AM

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» You Can't Use Yahoo! Publisher and MySpace Together from The Art of Blogging
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» YPN Sees MySpace as Evil, Bans Publishers from Technosailor
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Tracked on May 8, 2006 06:56 AM

Comments

Great posting. The explanation in the letter was "due to poor traffic quality." Are you certain that all MySpace profiles were dropped or perhaps only some? Is it possible that certain profiles draw high-quality traffic and were kept in the network?

Posted by: Brook Schaaf at May 2, 2006 09:00 AM

Ineresting how Disney thinks MySpace is important enough to create a movie tie-in for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but Yahoo doesn't.

Posted by: Graywolf at May 2, 2006 09:41 AM

Great insight. Monetizing social network traffic is a conundrum. Compounding the problem are the contextual matching problems AdSense and YPN have w/ blog content. Do you think MySpacer's simply don't buy anything while on MySpace? Or perhaps they would buy more if the ads were more contextually relevant?

Posted by: James Kim at May 2, 2006 09:46 AM

As an advertiser, I don't think that I would not want my ads showing up on MySpace. Of course, I am in the insurance market and I don't see an insurance ad fitting well into the context of MySpace pages.

Maybe other industries would make a better fit - like dating services and products that target teens and heavy users of social content networks (place your favorite computer geek joke here).

Posted by: James Omdahl at May 2, 2006 01:45 PM

Maybe some of these guys thought that they were slick, asking their 20,000+ Myspace friends to click ads, thinking that Yahoo wouldn't know the difference. Yahoo probably noticed by checking HTTP_REFERER, sorting that by CTR, looking for something strange.

You have to admit though, it's silly when a publisher can't talk about the ads on his own pages. Am I allowed to notice the ads? "Hey, don't look at the ads on this page!" ;) The rules of these programs are crazy. With Google for instance, you can't contact the advertisers, and you can't click your own ads, even if you think they are interesting.

In this case, is Yahoo is being too picky? Maybe. Maybe some of these people were plainly cheating? It's hard to say. I doubt anyone was posting ads directly on Myspace pages.

Most likely these webmasters were pushing traffic from Myspace with banners. Who knows. Myspace users, like most newbs, are generally uninformed about things. As we know, the first time you explain a click program to anyone, the first response is usually: "I'll click it 100 times for you and I'll make you some beer money!" How many times have I had to explain to them? "No, don't do that or you'll get me banned from the program!" For years and years we'll have plenty of ignorant amateurs thinking they will get rich quick by telling their friends to click ads.

I have a Myspace account and of course I link to my "offsite" domain. Why wouldn't I? But, I don't have enough friends on Myspace for Google to notice, or care. I'm lucky to get 5 clicks/day to my Myspace profile, but it's typical for me to get 5000+ visits to my website.

Maybe MSN can come up with a better system? The real challenge with these programs is making them foolproof, especially as far as abuse goes.

I think Adbrite has a good system. The advertiser buys space and takes a calculated risk. The publisher makes money, regardless of the number of clicks or the quality of the traffic. Maybe the advertiser gets lucky and makes a profit, or maybe he doesn't. Either way, he had a chance, got his name out there, etc. You pay to be seen, even if you don't get clicked. That's life. That's how it should be done. Adbrite also recently turned on a "family friendly" filter for their ads, which I like, otherwise I wouldn't use it.

We obviously need better alternatives. As a writer/publisher, it's not very efficient to chase down and negotiate with advertisers one by one, but it looks like that's the way to go, at least until these big publisher networks get their act together.

Posted by: PJ at May 2, 2006 06:33 PM

So, the implication of the article and the comments is that you have been able to put YPN ads on your MySpace profile - but is this true? I assumed YPN was javascript like Adsense and you can't use Javascript on MySpace profiles.

If that is right then I can't see the connection between the MySpace part and YPN advertisers being suspended. Or are you saying that sites that provide MySpace add-ons such as profile editing, videos, and music are being suspended?

Posted by: Dave at May 3, 2006 01:57 AM

No you dumb idiots! they are opening these "script" sites from ebay and such, that they pay $30 for, and implementing the ads onto such sites. How stupid can you be? How in the world would you be able to intergrate YPN ads into your myspace profile? Holly cow, I think my internal orgnas are about to come out of my nose from laughing.


Why dont you think "writers" before, you write.
Thank you! And happy mothers day.

Posted by: John101 at May 3, 2006 05:04 AM

I’m not suprised. YPN has to protect it’s advertisers. You can always reapply or sell ads yourself.

You can’t claim ignorance and enjoy someone’s hard earned money.

If a link comes from MySpace, don’t show YPN or Adsense ads on it. Use PHP or ASP to determine the refer of the user. It sucks indeed but that’s what you have to do if you want to protect your advertisers.

Posted by: marcel at May 4, 2006 08:08 AM

On the other hand is rather unintelligent.

Why don't they show specific cheap ads for YPN. They don't have the server power ?

Posted by: marcel at May 4, 2006 08:11 AM

The change you all have been waiting for has arrived - BuyMyProfile.com... social network advertising made easy - simple and the only one on the block who really gets it. Sign up today and tell your friends about this unique new frontier!

Posted by: Brian Ty Graham at May 5, 2006 03:06 AM

Dave is the only one right here. They are not putting ypn ads directly on the myspace profiles. They have there own domain where they put myspace codes on and tell everyone on there friends list to go to there web site. Which in return leads some to click there ypn ads.

Posted by: Tony at May 8, 2006 06:57 PM

yes ypn ads are not shown on myspace profile.....the ads are shown on the own domain website " myspace codes" turkey sites which are sold for $20 to $50 in sitepoint and ebay once they buy the site.....they also buy the traffic from few sitepoint members selling traffic like posting bulletin to 50,000 friends for $20 or $50 or getting friends from myspace train sites ( also seen few huge 5000 friends to 50,000+ friends profiles sold ) and the site will get traffic from this type where few clicks to ypn (ads are covered by images and drak color) which ypn calculates as low quality traffic..(Definitely it is)…

site will run for 1 month or 2 months and sell them at sitepoint for big amount i have seen huge sites like this concept

this type of low quality traffic is not only for “ myspace codes “ I have seen same concept used for “ games “ “ funny videos “ sites and few others category

They aim myspace to bring traffic to sites just for a click to ypn

But there are good quality and established myspace codes sites which are purely true webmasters but I hope they too suffer from this action.

Posted by: jai at May 9, 2006 12:54 PM

My thoughts may be somewhat complex but may be the answer. Although it is lengthy, I do feel it may be the answer Newscorp is looking for.

See my comment here:


http://mediastockblog.com/article/9409


An 'incentive', along the lines of the "Search Vortal" model, may be considered to compliment my solution, too.

http://www.searchenginelowdown.com/2006/05/search-vortals-myspace-agreement-to.html

http://myspace.com/mainstreamad1

:)
Ross

Posted by: Ross at May 14, 2006 11:33 AM

I sit down at my desk and start writing the job description.

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"So, no more running. I aim to misbehave."

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As well as the main critical mass ride theres now a north london version.

Posted by: acyclovir at May 16, 2006 01:45 AM