Yahoo Local’s Affiliate Spam: ‘A Unique Case’

Filed in Local Search, Yahoo by Matt McGee on March 25, 2008 4 Comments

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.

Yahoo Local logoBrian 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.

Comments (4)

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  1. Miriam says:

    It’s good to know that Yahoo is trying to stay on top of this. I’m not sure we’d get this kind of personal response from Google.

    It’s hard to know what an entity as large as Yahoo would think of as a major problem. I know Mike found at least 800 cases of affiliate map spam in Yahoo Local, but when you’re dealing with MILLIONS of records, maybe a few hundred or thousand problems seems small? Hard to picture.

    I do applaud Yahoo! for responding to this. Great posting, Matt. Looking forward to your further coverage of this.

  2. AhmedF says:

    Wait I’m confused.

    If you submit an update to Yahoo, they say they will review it (ie it doesn’t go live).

    How did they allow over a THOUSAND affiliate links in?

  3. Johnd says:

    This is still an ongoing issue and is a much larger problem than Yahoo is willing To admit,

    Just try a local search on yahoo for any of the following terms

    Home Insurance Houston,tx
    Life Insurance Houston TX
    auto insurance Houston,TX

    Substitute The city with austin,tx
    Dallas, TX , Elpaso, TX etc.

    You will see the same results repeatedly leading to the spammer sites with same repeated phone numbers.

    This Local Search Spammer has dozens of Spam web sites and thousands of ficticious listing in almost every city in the country. The sites owner also employs ghosts user ids to post bogus negative reviews on competitors listings while posting positive ratings on it’s own fraudulent listings.

    This local search Spammer has literally thousand of fake address listings for over a year on Yahoo Local Search.

    Google has managed to delete many but not all of the spammers bofgus listings on Google Maps but Yahoo seems to be unwilling or unable to take any action. One would think that over the course of a year yahoo could have gottne its act together by now.

  4. Johnd says:

    Local Search Spa appears to be here to stay with Yahoo

    Here is another example of Yahoo local search spam

    This property is managed by “Oaklawn Realty Associates‎” Here is their web site and phone number. The property manger can be reached at his phone number during business hours.

    3300 Oak Lawn Ave # 103
    Dallas, TX 75219
    (214) 521-0807

    The property management office verifies that their is no Suite 220. The entire second floor was suite 200 and previously occupied by Chase bank and is now empty. The proerty manager says their are no tenants at all on the second floor and no tenants anywhere in the building with a corresponding name.

    Yahoo seems to like he Spam business

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