Yahoo! Search Marketing, Conversion Counter and Chicken Little - Oh My!

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” This could have, perhaps should have been the title of this blog post. Last week, the YSM Blog discussed their Conversion Only Analytics and the inclusion of their new Assists metric. At the end of the blog post, the writer reminded us all to switch our conversion tracking codes over to take full advantage of Yahoo!’s new analytics prowess. And then it got interesting:

“The older Conversion Counter tags will not be supported after July 2007.”

Conversion Counter of course being the old tags from the pre-Panama Yahoo! Search Marketing. Admittedly, Conversion Counter is something that my colleagues and I still use with a few of our clients. While I understand that eventually all YSM accounts will be required to switch over, I didn’t realize that it would be so soon.

To make matters worse, I wasn’t notified to this effect by Yahoo! at all. And when I say that I wasn’t notified, I mean that I searched their blog, help sections and the original Panama Upgrade documents. What did I find? Zero, zilch, nada. Not a word was mentioned about an end-date for Conversion Counter tags. Be that July 2007 or beyond.

This didn’t anger me, nor did it put me into panic-mode. What it did do, however, was alarm me that such a huge piece of information was allowed to go un-announced. So I picked up the phone to talk to Yahoo! support.

After describing what I read on the YSM Blog, the support person merely agreed with everything I said. Yes, Conversion Counter tags will become obsolete after July 2007. Yes, you will be notified via an alert through your account interface at an appropriate time. International accounts not yet using the Panama interface? Of course they can still use Conversion Counter. They haven’t upgraded yet! (As if I didn’t realize this already.) At this point I actually wrote a “doomsday” blog post, but decided it was best for all involved to investigate further.

Thankfully, I also have contact with a representative of Yahoo!’s Platinum Team. The cream of the crop, if you will. Their response was that there has been NO internal communication regarding the impending demise of Conversion Counter tags. Without hesitation, they said that if this was in fact the case, the July deadline was surely a “soft” date and would be pushed back. To further assuage my doubts, this Yahoo-er offered to contact their supervisor, fellow team members and Yahoo!’s technical team to determine what, in fact, was going on.

Today I discussed this issue again with my dedicated support person. At the time of this posting, they have confirmed with their supervisor that there has been no official announcement. It is probable that this July deadline was something decided on before the launch of Panama, and doesn’t hold true any longer. While they have not heard from Yahoo!’s technical team as of yet, I have been promised that as soon as there is an answer, I will know.

The moral(s) of the story? First and foremost, don’t trust everything you read. Secondly, don’t trust everything Yahoo! Support tells you. If in doubt: call, call, call again. And finally, while the chances are this Conversion Counter “scare” is nothing to worry about, it does serve as a reminder: at some point in the future, all Yahoo! accounts will be upgraded, and the legacy tracking code will cease to function. This means, for those of us still using Conversion Counter tags, we will have to eventually switch out the code.

P.S. When I receive word from my Yahoo! contact on the official low-down, I’ll update this post.

UPDATE: I finally heard back from my Yahoo! contact on the Conversion Counter fiasco. There has been no official announcement internally at Yahoo! concerning this pending deletion date. After discussing the issue with the Yahoo! technical team (whoever that may be), my contact assured me of a few things: 1) If/when there is an official announcement regarding the deletion of Conversion Counter tags, advertisers will know about it well in advance. 2) For the time being, disregard what I read on the YSM Blog. 3) That the “powers at be” know of the blog post and what it said.