In response to news this week that affiliate marketers appear to be placing affiliate URLs into prominent hotel listings on Yahoo! Local, a Yahoo! official confirmed today that they’re “looking into it,” and suggested the situation may not be as bad as the reports make it appear to be.
Brian Gil, Director of Product Management for Yahoo! Local, told me today that the company is aware of recent reports on the eClick Performance blog and on Search Engine Land. I asked him about the overall response to Yahoo!’s “Consumer Submit” program, which allows users to make edits to business listings on Yahoo! Local, and specifically about the affiliate hotel “spam” reported this week:
“We haven’t seen what I would categorize as significant abuse issues. I’m not going to speak specifically to the hotel thing. That one is a unique case. We have been looking into it…. We’ll take the appropriate action, but my gut is telling me that it’s not nearly as suspect as what was written up. “
Brian did explain that there are times when businesses want to use a unique URL in their business listing for tracking purposes, but this didn’t appear to be one of those cases. I asked him if Yahoo! was aware of the potential for abuse when Consumer Submit launched in late 2006:
“Yes. Whenever we roll out a service like that, we always couple it with increased fraud prevention measures. We don’t just throw more people at it, because oftentimes a person couldn’t even detect a pattern of spam. So, we always complement our human moderation team with automated controls, some of which will automatically reject submissions if it determines that something’s gotten out of hand. Or, it will just raise [an issue] as needing deeper investigation by human beings. All of that is in play, and we were very cognizant of the risk.”
It’s worth nothing that Google also recently announced that anyone will be able to edit business listings on Google Maps.
My conversation with Yahoo!’s Brian Gil today involved a variety of topics related to local search, small business, and, of course, Yahoo! and Yahoo! Local. Stay tuned for a more complete version of the interview in the next day or two here on SBS.