Yahoo Jumps the Shark – Annoys Loyal Customers

I hate to complain, especially about a service I have liked for so long, but Yahoo has recently ruined the user experience for their most loyal clients.

It started by introducing banner ads in the Yahoo Address pages.

June 1st was the last straw:  banner ads and graphic text links in my Yahoo Webmail.

I am already a monthly cash-paying customer for Yahoo services.  I consciously choose to pay AT&T Yahoo DSL for mail, addresses and calendar.  In addition, I am a Yahoo Small Business hosted customer who also pays a monthly fee for these same services.

The worst part:  zero useful response from both AT&T and Yahoo Customer Service. The best line I got, from a representative who was clearly reading from a script, was “We display ads in order to pay for the award winning Yahoo mail service.”  Excuse me, I don’t care if you win awards; I just want stable, easy-to-use e-mail without intrusions.

I can accept ads in applications I use only occasionally and don’t pay for, like Yahoo Movies.  But I resent being forced to view ads for a service I already pay a premium for.  Put another way, if I paid an extra $2 per month (the value of me as a web viewer), would Yahoo remove the ads for me?  I’d gladly pay that raise, if it could free me from ads.

Granted, I’m in the Internet advertising business, so I should accept these ads, right?

By degrading the user experience, Yahoo will frustrate users and drive them away to competing services.  And by repeatedly showing irrelevant ads (mortgage anyone?) every day to the same user in the same application, the click-through rates on those ads fall over time.  How many mortgage ads does one need to view in a year?  (Inside tip:  if you ever need to refinance, click on one ad just once, fill in the form, and you will be bombarded with more mortgage brokers falling over themselves to close a deal.)

Because Yahoo is so big, they sell these ads at a premium CPM (cost per impression), meaning that Yahoo has no incentive to display ads which users actually click on.  The advertisers, though, measure the ad value in actual conversions.  Most of the ads I’ve seen are for education and mortgages — both verticals driven by CPL – Cost Per Lead.  What this means is, it will take a while for the lead-gen providers to realize that e-mail advertising won’t pay off.

I hope so.  In the meantime, I am now testing alternative services so that I can eliminate my dependency on Yahoo and turn them off forever.

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