I received an email this weekend from Yahoo saying that they were updating their Terms & Conditions for their search marketing accounts. However, within the email they didn’t say exactly what was updated, so I went ahead and asked my Yahoo Representative for a quick summary of what has been changed (side note, my Yahoo Representative is great: he always has speedy, thorough email responses). In summary, Yahoo is going to optimize your PPC account without prior knowledge of or approval by advertisers.
The one major change that is important to Yahoo advertisers is listed under the “Sponsored Search and Content Match Program Terms” section and is copied below:

OPTIMIZATION. In the U.S. only, for those advertisers not bound by an Insertion Order, we may help you optimize your account(s). Accordingly, you expressly agree that we may also: (i) create ads, (ii) add and/or remove keywords, and/or (iii) optimize your account(s). We will notify you via email of such changes made to your account(s), and can also include a spreadsheet of such changes upon your written request. If you would like any of such changes reversed, please reply to such email within 14 days of the change(s), and we will make commercially reasonable efforts to reverse the change(s) you specifically identify. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you remain responsible for all changes made to your account(s), including all click charges incurred prior to any reversions being made. It is your responsibility to monitor your account(s) and to ensure that your account settings are consistent with your business objectives.

According to my Yahoo representative: “essentially, this means that Yahoo! will automatically go into an account and optimize the ads and keywords in the account without prior knowledge of or approval by advertisers. This program is designed to help optimize your account to its fullest potential. We optimize accounts on a daily basis and are in tune with dynamic changes in the marketplace, and know the tactics and strategies that have proven successful on the Yahoo! network. Any changes we make to your account will be very carefully selected, and are designed to help you become a more successful advertiser with Sponsored Search.”

Accounts are automatically opted into this program as long as they are on prepay terms (no invoiced accounts bound by an Insertion Order will be opted into this program). Accounts can be opted out of this program. To do this, Yahoo needs this requested in writing. You can send the email requesting to be opted out of the automatic optimization program directly to your Yahoo Customer Representative. Since this is done on an account by account basis, it is important that you call out whether you want specific accounts (list the account name and number) opted out or all of your accounts opted out.

If you don’t want Yahoo to automatically optimize your PPC account, you will have to submit this in writing.