Like a prodigal partner, IncrediMail (Nasdaq: MAIL ) is back in Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) good graces. The Israeli provider of animated email products made headlines two weeks ago when it was booted from Google's AdSense. IncrediMail has now been reinstated into the program, with both companies working through the compliance issues to make sure IncrediMail sticks around as a productive partner in the future.
Google bans nefarious websites all the time. IncrediMail was a notable dis as the first public company to be dismissed. Whether it's unethical webmasters encouraging users to click on the ads or sites that create pages from lifted content for the sake of populating it with ads, Google has a reputation to keep with the advertiser community. If it can't patrol its AdSense program to keep it clean, loose clicks sink ships.
Marketers know that not every click will result in a qualified lead. That can be said of every ad form ever invented. However, because interactive marketing campaigns generated through companies like Google, ValueClick (Nasdaq: VCLK ) , and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) are fully accountable in real time, the fear is that cheated publishers will either bid lower on keywords or pull out of the platforms entirely.
Clearly, IncrediMail had more to lose than Google in the banning earlier this month. IncrediMail's stock shed 29% of its value the day its suspension was announced. However, Google also has a delicate balance to negotiate.
Booting a sizable partner -- IncrediMail has 10 million active accounts -- sends a message to advertisers that it's serious about enforcing the integrity of its sponsorship terms. However, it's a move that also struck fears in smaller publishers who wallpaper the Web with blocks of "Ads by Google" contextual marketing ads.
Google's saving grace is that Yahoo! and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) have been asleep at the wheel in marketing competitive products. Yahoo!'s YPN has been slow to stick with Stateside publishers, while Microsoft doesn't partner with anyone other than the largest websites.
We may never get a clear picture of what IncrediMail did to go astray from Google's program. That isn't the point. Google sent a message. It can be ruthlessly vigilant of its third-party publisher partners. It can also forgive you if you're as big as IncrediMail.
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