Industry Flashback: Overture Gets Greedy

flashbackIt’s a New Year so I’m rolling out a new blog feature: Search Industry Flashbacks.

Some of you new to this blog may not know this, but I actually started blogging about the search industry in July 2002. I was wading through the old blog archives today and having a good old chuckle at the stories that made search headlines back then when it struck me. Those old posts would make blogging gold today! Plus they’ll save me from thinking up new ones.

So without further ado, I give you the first Industry Flashback:

Date: 21 August 2002

Original Post: Overture Gets Greedy

Summary: It’s August 2002 and Overture (later to be bought by Yahoo! and re-branded as Yahoo! Search Marketing) is the main pay per click engine with Google AdWords still playing catch up at this point. As an Overture advertiser, I’m fired up about a new feature they’ve rolled out. I must have been pretty upset as I’ve even compared them to LookSmart:


An email from Overture to advertisers has sent some shock waves around the SEO community today. Not content to disappoint us with their sneaky Auto-Bidding tool, now Overture calmly announce that their Match Driver tool will ensure your listings will appear for search terms you haven’t even bid on!

That’s right – your ad will appear for searches that you haven’t blatantly specified, meaning you will end up having to pay for clicks you didn’t even want!

In their email, the spin doctors from Overture worded it like this: “The new expanded matching enhancement allows you to receive traffic from more complex user search queries. This feature looks at your term, title and description to match your listings to searches where we believe the intent of the user is to find your product or service even though they have not typed in the exact keywords you’ve bid on”. Makes me wonder if they borrowed LookSmart’s PR team especially for the occasion.

Search engine forums are already abuzz with talk of the so called “enhancement” and it’s not pretty. I’ll keep you posted on developments.

Postscript: The Match Driver tool turned out to be a pre-cursor to the Broad Match or Advanced Match keyword-matching options later introduced by most pay-per-click search engines. And I still don’t like them!

Spread the joy!