During the last week of March, I reported at SearchEngineLand on Yahoo affiliate mapspam first reported by eClick. Perhpas more than 5% of the hotel listings in major markets, had url’s that moved through 2 or 3 affiilate urls prior to being redirected to the business listing in question. On March 25th, Yahoo’s Brian Gil, in an interview with Matt McGee noted:
â€œWe havenâ€™t seen what I would categorize as significant abuse issues. Iâ€™m not going to speak specifically to the hotel thing. That one is a unique case. We have been looking into itâ€¦. Weâ€™ll take the appropriate action, but my gut is telling me that itâ€™s not nearly as suspect as what was written up.
The response struck me at the time as a non denial that was meant to leave the impression that it wasn’t spam while leaving open the possibility that it was just that. We may never really know whether it was in fact mapspam or was something more innocuous. From my point of view it seemed that mapspam had moved from self serving gaming to potential criminal activity in its approach.
Regardless the affiliate links are now gone on all records that I checked.
One then has to wonder:
â€¢If it wasn’t spam why has it been removed?
â€¢If it was spam does a 5% (or more) penetration in one industry not qualify as significant abuse?
â€¢If it was spam who initiated it and managed the spam?
â€¢Was it done manually or automated in someway?
â€¢If it was spam, did it break the law?
â€¢ If it wasn’t spam what are the more benign explanations that Brian was speaking of?
Can anyone think of a use for this multi layer affilate linkng strategy that would be considered benign?