Thanks, but no thanks: returning search gifts from 2006

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If there is anything worse than the rush at the mall on the days leading up to the holidays, it is the rush on Dec. 26. On this day, thousands of Americans head back to the hallowed halls of the local shopping mall to return unwanted gifts. For some, this is done sheepishly. For others, it is a sport.

In considering why our society accepts both over-gifting and the mass return of gifts, I asked a few colleagues about the gifts the search engine marketing industry bestowed upon us this year. Some were real keepers. Some not. Since there is no search engine marketing mall to return the latter, I thought I'd make a list here.

· Google API usage charges: This topped the list of one colleague. If you don't recall the furor, take a quick peak at the blogosphere. In April, Google announced that it would charge for its Adwords API use. Given that the SEMs serving paid search are already experiencing price competition, this additional cost made it hard to swallow.

· Poorly managed Yahoo Panama release: In July, Yahoo announced that Panama would not launch in the third quarter, as expected. While I can understand how eager the team was to launch and launch fast, a public company should be better at setting expectations.

· MSN's non-working adCenter: Ouch. This one came from a frustrated colleague who considers the adCenter this year's gift of fruitcake. While we are waiting for the wrinkles to be ironed out, perhaps it could be used as a doorstop.

· Google click fraud case: Consider this the gift that kept on giving…a headache. Unless you were one of the lucky lawyers, everyone lost in this deal. Not only did marketers get a paltry payment, but SEMs around the world spent endless hours crafting POVs (point of views) to clarify the situation.

· Flogs: I can't believe Uncle Wal-Mart and Aunt Sony gave us fake blogs. Perhaps that's what happens when the public relations agency is put in charge of interactive gifting.

· iTunes 7.0 : This was a gift I looked forward to, counting the days until its arrival. I was severely disappointed, and if I hadn't already committed my entire music library to the format, I would have taken it back in a flash.

While there are many other gifts to ponder, I need to finish some gifting of my own. And remember, when in doubt, there are always gift certificates.
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