Removing Recurring Billing "Coupon" Ads on Yahoo

David Naffziger Sep 8, 2009

We've seen advertisements similar to the one below for "top-rated-coupons.com" appear in Yahoo search ads for a number of the programs that we monitor:

top-rated-coupons

The ads are typically shown for "brand" + coupon searches. This particular advertiser isn't an affiliate though. They are actually selling a mobile recurring billing scheme that gives "access" to coupons provided over SMS. Their deceptive landing page is below:

top-rated-coupons-landing-page

Once you sign up the service automatically charges $10 a month to your cell phone bill. Part of your subscription gives you access to Coupon Whale (which is free anyway). If there is any doubt about the deceptive nature of the ads, check complaint board.

The ads clearly violate Google's editorial policy and have also been rejected by Microsoft. They only run on Yahoo (and they run a lot).

So, what can a merchant do with ads these ads on Yahoo? Yahoo's editorial policy could be applied to these ads:

Pricing and Free Claims

In an effort to provide a safer environment for our users and a fair marketplace for our advertisers, all price claims made in an ad must be clearly and accurately substantiated on the landing page.

Ad creatives or landing pages that contain “free”, “complimentary” or synonymous offers must disclose the pertinent terms and conditions associated with the offer. Creatives that advertise “free” or similar offers must not misrepresent the true nature of the offer. Any disclosure (or notice that a disclosure applies) must be made in close proximity to the claim, and must be clear, conspicuous and in a font equal in size to that of the base font of the ad or landing page.

How does Yahoo! define “pertinent terms and conditions”?

Disclosures should cover anything that may impact the user’s decision to accept your offer. This could include:

* initial and recurring charges
* billing periods
* billing methods
* cancellation instructions
* additional products or services that are bundled with the initial product or service

We assert that while the ad doesn't use the word free, its offer of coupons is synonymous with free. We've asked Yahoo for comment, and their response was that the ads are handled on a case-by-case basis, but that it appears that they would be violations of the editorial policy.

Yahoo suggested that advertisers utilize the trademark complaint process to request an editorial review of the ads.

Topics: Search Engine Updates, Paid Search

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