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The editorial directory payment (where it still exists) is for a review - not a guarantee of inclusion (unlike the URL paid inclusion program which is a guarantee of inclusion - but not ranking).
[...] unlike the URL paid inclusion program which is a guarantee of inclusion - but not ranking
We actually accidently let our SSP contract expire last year after years of participating. We had ranked #1 or 2 for years in our very highly competitive vertical for the most sought after 1 and 2-word keyword phrases in our vertical. On the very DAY the contract expired, our rankings for those SSP keyword phrases dropped to the 20s, 30s, and even 40s.
At the time we freaked trying to figure out why our Yahoo! rankings had tanked. Of course, our Google and MSN/Live traffic remained the same. The ONLY think we could attribute it to was the SSP contract expiring or possibly some major change to Yahoo's ranking algorithm. So we let it ride for 3-4 months to see if our rankings would improve. They didn't.
About 4 months later we signed new contracts and this time set up our SSP feeds through Outrider. On the day the feeds were in place... BAM! our rankings returned to normal... back to #1 and #2 for almost all of our major keywords.
However, since about mid-August Yahoo! rankings for these SSP keyword phrases have slowly started dropping again... not by 20, 30, or 40 positions... but more like dropping by 5 or 10 positions... I figured this was Yahoo! slowly backing off on the influence that SSP had on organic rankings in preparation for Bing not supporting it and have since cancelled SSP participation.
We have weekly if not daily conference calls w/ Yahoo, Google, Microsoft regarding all of our paid advertising as well as on site quarterly business reviews. In the last Yahoo! QBR I asked how they were going to handle SSP now that the plans were for Bing to power their organic search results. The answer was that they didn't know. I felt at the time that it would likely be sunset because Microsoft wouldn't want to degrade their search results by implementing such a "feature". I guess this is confirmation of that.
When reporting to a client it makes the program look phenomenal if you bundle shopping engines and the Yahoo! feed together in a report with the homepage in the feed, you can make anything look like a killer investment no matter how bad or expensive the rest of the shopping engines perform. The marketing managers are going to lose a ton of what was their ROI to the general site sales bucket or organic search.