I've been doing PPC for my biggest client for years. Back in the day, Goto.com (Overture.com) was the biggest fish in the pond and although we tried other PPC programs, Goto.com spending was always more than all other combined. Then AdWords rose up and became as important, and then more important. YSM became number 2.
June 2008 was the first month when our MSN AdCenter spending exceeded our YSM spending. A milestone has been passed as YSM becomes our number 3. And it wasn't because MSN spending rose; it was because YSM spending sank. I almost feel sorry for this company when I look at how they have fallen. (But I'm not really sorry because I don't like spending money and because they brought it on themselves.) A few years ago, our AdWords and YSM spending were about equal. In June AdWords spending was 35 times YSM spending. Our YSM spending went from six digits per month back in 2005 to four digits in June 2008.
Is the lower spending because we are getting fewer clicks, bidding on different keywords? No. It is almost all due to the collapse in price at YSM. The competitors in this industry realized the poor quality of traffic out of YSM and drove the bids down, down, down.
And my main point of contact with my client is saying she wants to abandon YSM altogether. I keep telling her we should stay with them especially given how cheap their clicks are now. But she unfortunately doesn't always look at ROI, and instead looks at number of leads coming off each traffic source. And the number of fake and bogus leads. We've always gotten fake and bogus leads, but the number from YSM has skyrocketed in the past few months. This is almost certainly due to YSM's paying affiliates more if their clicks convert – leading to the temptation to produce a conversion, even a fake one.
I use the blocked domain function, but that is ineffective in stopping new affiliates who send you one click and one fake conversion.
YSM is like a Greek tragedy or something. They keep trying to make it better and I genuinely believe some of their people are trying. But they can't get away from their addiction to bad affiliates.