What you need to know about Yahoo Product Ads

Yahoo Product Ads

Back in November 2015, Yahoo Product Ads officially launched, an umbrella name that encompassed a few different types of ad units within the Yahoo Gemini universe.

I’ve been working specifically with the Search Product Ads unit, which appears on Yahoo.com search results properties with feed driven product ad units.

You might be saying, “Wait, those were there before!” and you would be right. What’s changed is now those ads can now be served by Yahoo from Yahoo submitted feeds through a Yahoo Gemini Merchant Center.

Previously, that inventory had primarily come from the Bing partnership that was renegotiated earlier in 2015. As a result, the amount of traffic being served from Bing Ads started to shift, especially as it pertained to mobile, of which most of the product ads are to come from Yahoo Product Ads or their partners, which does include the deal they also signed with Google in October 2015.

Things to beware of

Yahoo has begun to take advantage of this Google deal, serving Google Product Listing Ads and Bing Ads Product Ads on some Yahoo.com desktop SERPs as a part of the search partner network, as well as testing text ads with extensions from Google in the sidebar results.

Which means that if you are advertising on Google and Bing currently there’s a good chance, particularly in desktop results, that your ads are showing on Yahoo.com SERPs in a multitude of variations of product and text ads from all three engines.

Additionally:

  • If you don’t have a Yahoo account representative, you may not be able to get started yet, otherwise, you’ll need to email the support team and wait for enablement
  • You’ll want to make sure the category that you want to advertise in is ‘open’ first
  • To submit a feed, you need a Dropbox account set up by Yahoo or Fetch
  • The feed specs for Yahoo mimics Google very closely, you should be able to utilize almost the exact same feed
  • There is not an offline editor and you can create campaigns by hand through the bulk import process, or
  • You could utilize your existing Google AdWords account structure and import as is into the account
  • If you have a small to mid-size budget and pressed for time to manage, consider simplifying or collapsing a few of the product groups or campaigns (don’t send your entire Google account)
  • Not all third party tools support this feature yet, so if you have a bid management tool, check to make sure that they’re up and running
  • Billing is the same, if within an up and running Yahoo Gemini account

What we’ve seen so far

There’s definitely some ‘wait and see’ going on right now in terms of adoption rates of the program in the industry and I would expect that in your day to day, you’re already running up against a time constraint to launch and possibly budget issues as well.

I’ve also run into a couple of industry friends that have had trouble launching, due to account enablement or open categories. I would recommend that if you can’t do your entire catalog, choosing a few test campaigns where you have solid volume on Google or Bing in which to capture that traffic that lives between the two search engines.

I’ve also observed that it also matters what category or categories your catalog is in. Apparel was one of the earliest launched categories during the beta and has a lot of strength in terms of volume of impressions and clicks, where as other categories, like Food & Beverage aren’t really built out yet.

Other strong categories that may make Yahoo Product Ads worth it for you now are Electronics, Sporting Goods, Health & Beauty and Home & Garden. If you’re in a smaller niche like Pet Supplies or Luggage, don’t expect volume and performance that competes with Google or Bing.

During an early beta test for a large retailer for one vertical that contained at least a hundred thousand SKUs and a healthy sized budget that was in the apparel category, we saw return for the campaigns at a promising six times, but with an overall volume (impressions and clicks) that was smaller than Bing Ads Product Ads during the test period.

In total from beta launch to when the feature was opened up publically, the CPC has averaged out to .25 with some further tweaking planned, now that more optimization options are available than there were during the beta.

Most of the estimates I’ve been seeing for specific categories have had high impressions, low CTR, but also a low CPC (under .50 cents), very reminiscent of early content network stats.

What we need

I understand the low adoption rate right now for Yahoo Product Ads – it’s new, there’s a lot of cloudiness around Google and Bing’s involvement and whenever that happens, the wait and see attitude comes out. But I do have a wish list of features needed to really convince clients and other paid search industry folks to give this new ad unit a try:

  • Easily accessible estimates or ranges for categories, around impressions or clicks (anything to help determine what the potential opportunity might be)
  • Case studies on return, CPC or even engagement metrics like new to file visitors, lift in organic or assisted conversions
  • Easier account start up, no rep needed and feed submittal directly through the Merchant Center
  • Offline editor
  • Ad scheduling by hour of the day and day of the week capabilities

Clearly, Yahoo is just getting started in the product ads space and with their heavy investments in mobile and acquisitions like Polyvore and Brightroll, logically there is a lot of potential for advertisers needing to capture new eyeballs, especially with the depreciation of some of the comparison shopping channels for more niche discovery shopping markets.

However, the addition of both Google and Bing ad units to the Yahoo.com SERPs makes it harder to justify the management and cost of a third platform, which means that the wait and see is going to continue for now.

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