I advertise my law firm on Google and Yahoo. By that I mean, if you search for the right words on their search engines, my "ad" pops up in "Sponsored links".
I focus a lot more on my Google ads than my Yahoo ads. Google's ad program (called AdWords) is easier to use and more effective than Yahoo's (called Yahoo Sponsored Search).
A couple times now I have been burned by Yahoo doing something inappropriate with my ads. Today I got a call from someone who had seen me on the web. She said I was listed as an attorney on the directory for Ellenville. I don't even know where Ellenville is. So I did a search for redlich ellenville, and found the site: [something].areaguides.net. If you go to areaguides.net, you'll see that they have "guides" to many different areas.
Well, it turns out that areaguides.net is a Yahoo partner. But to be clear, the caller did not search on areaguides.net. She got to the Ellenville page (probably ellenville.areaguides.net), and there's an ad there for me.
I should be clear about something now. In this kind of advertising, there's both "search" ads and "content" ads. Search ads appear when someone does a search. If you think those words relate to what you do, you pay for your ads to appear on those searches. I find this a very effective form of advertising.
Content ads appear on sites that are "related" to keywords you choose. These ads have two major problems. First, the person who gets to that page is less likely to be looking for what you do. Second, the owner of that page has an incentive to fake clicks on your ads because they're getting a cut of the ad cost. The latter is known as click fraud. Click fraud is virtually zero on search ads, but it's a big problem with content ads.
I have content ads turned off in both AdWords and in Yahoo Sponsored Search. Apparently Yahoo figured out a way to deal with this. They decided that areaguides.net ads are search, even though they're really content ads.
I complained and here was part of their response:
>This partner is actually considered to be part of our Sponsored Search network, rather than Content Match. We understand that is can sometimes be confusing to determine whether a partner implementation is considered Sponsored Search or Content Match,<
Let me be clear about this -- a search ad should appear when someone SEARCHES for something. A content ad would appear on page that contains content perceived as relevant to something. If the user didn't do a search, it's not a search ad.
I spend about four times as much on AdWords as on Yahoo. When my account runs out of money, I will probably discontinue the Yahoo ads. I'm not saying Google is perfect, but they respect their advertisers more. I also think the search engine delivers better results, but that's another topic.