Focusing on the Wrong Thing

I saw the post A Thousand Hall Monitors from Yahoo this morning and immediately thought “why is YPN focusing on the wrong thing?” 

YPN (Yahoo Publisher Network) is way behind Google AdSense.  They are trying – hard – to catch up – and doing plenty of smart things.  They should have three goals – all really simple. 

  1. Get their targeting technology to be equal to or better than Google.
  2. Sign up as many advertisers as possible.
  3. Sign up as many publishers as possible.

Duh.  Pretty simple.  So – why is someone posing as (in their words) the “cross librarian” and telling people to “tattle on publishers that are violating the YPN Terms and Conditions.”

I’m a publisher.  I’m violating the YPN Terms and Conditions by running YPN ads on my left rails and Google ads on my right rails.  When I’ve talked to people at Google about this, they don’t care.  Several people from YPN have mentioned it to me – whenever I say “ok – I’ll just take the YPN ads down because the Google ones perform better”, my friends at YPN say “nah – don’t bother – we’ll just ignore it.”

Google understands goal #3 (actually they understand all three of these.)  YPN is struggling with #3 – given that YPN is behind, they should be delighted when a publisher puts them up on their site, especially if it’s an existing Google AdSense publisher.  If YPN can get #1 and #2 right, then this will help them get to a happier place.

Alternatively – Yahoo should change the game entirely, which is what Google did to them in the first place.  The “hall monitor” stuff is – well – the wrong thing.  To my friends at Yahoo and YPN – please take this in the spirit it is offered – as constructive feedback.  To my friends at Google and AdSense – please don’t make me take the YPN ads down. 

To all the entrepreneurs out there – “are you focusing on the wrong things?”

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