Yahoo Unveils Public Details Of “Panama” Ad System Upgrade

Yahoo’s finally gone public with details about its new "Panama" ad system
upgrade, which when launched later this year will bring the system up to
matching what Google’s long offered, though both Yahoo and Google will remain
behind Microsoft’s third-generation ad platform "adCenter,"
launched last week. Details have

leaked
before, but now Yahoo’s doing the talking directly.

The
longer version of this article for Search Engine Watch
members goes into
more depth about where Yahoo has come from and how this system takes it to a new
campaign-oriented system. It also looks at why Yahoo wants to hold off on
third-generation features, for the moment, plus a little bit more explanation on
some coming features.

You won’t find the new system or features in place today. Instead, all that’s
happened today is that Yahoo is giving the many ad management companies and
others who programmatically access the Yahoo system through APIs more
information on how things will work, so they can start building support.

The system itself won’t start changing until the third quarter of this year,
sometime between July and September, Yahoo says. The switch will mean that
you’ll be able to build campaigns of multiple ads linked to multiple keywords.
But the ranking system won’t change. Those campaigns paying the most money per
click will still come up tops first.

There’s no timeline on when rankings themselves will shift to being more
Google-like, where ads will show ranked based on a combination of clickthrough
rate, the amount being bid and other factors. In fact, similar to Google,
Yahoo’s not saying what all the "quality" factors will be or how scores are
ultimately determined. However, it does promise that the new system will make it
easier to see the "ad quality" score for all your ads and campaigns.

What else is on tap? Better local targeting, for one. Pick a region of the
US, and you’ll be able to deliver ads to those either searching from that region
or using common terms related to that region. Wildcard targeting, which exists now, will be made easier to use. New
conversion tracking tools are to be offered, assuming you want to provide data
to Yahoo.

Keep in mind that while I led off saying that Yahoo and Google are "behind"
in features compared to Microsoft, that’s not the case with the most important
feature — traffic. Ratings services such as
comScore
and
NetRatings
still show Google and Yahoo with much more audience than
Microsoft. That’s the primarily reason advertisers choose these services — lots
of good quality traffic.

Ultimately, as long as there is more demand than search inventory to go
around (as is largely the case today), anyone with a major unique ad network is
going to be successful. It only becomes a more zero sum game when there is more
inventory than demand. That’s when advertisers might become more selective and
individual features may matter more.

Some additional coverage:

And the mailing to Yahoo’s advertisers today:

The New Sponsored Search is Coming
Better Ways to Connect with Customers Will Make Your Advertising More
Effective

You’ve told us your needs and we’ve listened. A completely redesigned search
marketing platform is on its way, full
of advanced, easy-to-use features that will help you better connect with
Yahoo!’s vast and valuable audience.

As part of creating these enhancements, we met with advertisers of all sizes to
hear first-hand the things they liked and didn’t like about Sponsored Search. We
extensively reviewed all parts of our service, including the design, features
and tools. The result of these efforts is the new Sponsored Search, which will
make its debut this Fall.

Powerful New Features
The new features that will make advertising with Yahoo! better and more
effective include:

  • Easy-to-Use Control Panel
    A completely redesigned, easy-to-navigate control panel will help you see
    what’s working and what’s not–at the level of detail you choose–so you can
    take action and get even better results.
     
  • Fast Ad Activation
    Most new ads will go online within minutes, allowing you to connect with
    customers quickly, and easily make changes to your ads whenever you need to.
     

  • Ad Testing
    Easily test multiple versions of an ad to find the message that works best
    for your customers and provides the greatest return on your advertising
    investment. You can then choose to shift impressions to the ad that performs
    best.
     
  • Geo-Targeting
    Display your ads broadly or narrow your geographic distribution to better
    target your customers, customize your ads and control your costs.
     
  • Campaign Budgeting, Forecasting and Scheduling
    Create, budget and schedule individual advertising campaigns for greater
    control over your advertising strategy and spending. Review forecasts of your
    potential clicks based on your bids and budget and see how many clicks you’re
    leaving to your competitors.
     
  • Visibility
    Understand how well your ads are performing relative to your competitors with
    the new Quality Index displayed for each ad. You’ll also see the bid range
    necessary for premium placement at the top of the search results page.
     
  • Easy-to-Use Control Panel
    A completely redesigned, easy-to-navigate control panel will help you see
    what’s working and what’s not–at the level of detail you choose–so you can
    take action and get even better results.

Thoroughly Tested and Reviewed by Your Peers
These new features have been rigorously tested by your fellow advertisers and
refined over time to ensure that we delivered a service that successfully
addresses the obstacles you currently face. Judging by the overwhelmingly
positive feedback we’ve received, we are confident that the new Sponsored Search
not only clears away those obstacles, but offers new and better ways to manage
your account.

Frequent and Detailed Communication with You
Beginning next month, we’ll begin to provide you with much more detailed
information about all of the upcoming enhancements. To make your transition as
smooth and easy as possible, we will provide:

  • A
    series of emails with tips on how best to prepare your account
  • In-depth articles on our new features in the advertiser newsletter
  • A
    new Yahoo! Search Marketing blog–a community forum for tips, news and your
    comments, as well as the inside scoop from our own staff, to help you be more
    successful
  • A
    dedicated toll-free phone number that will be available to you during your
    transition period, for any questions or concerns you may have

This
is just the first step. After all advertisers have successfully transitioned to
the new Sponsored Search, we plan to quickly introduce many more innovative
products, features and tools that will give you even more ways to connect with
customers.

As always, thank you for doing business with us. We look forward to delivering
the new Sponsored Search to you later this year.

And the Yahoo press release on the announcement:

Yahoo! to Launch New, More Powerful Search Advertising Platform

Company outlines plans to introduce easy-to-use customer interface,
new forecasting features, enhanced testing and targeting capabilities, and
quality-based ranking model

Burbank, Calif. May 8, 2006 ? Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), a leading global
Internet company, today announced that it will begin rolling out a completely
redesigned search advertising platform in the third quarter of this year to
help businesses more easily connect to Yahoo!?s vast audience. In conjunction
with the announcement, Yahoo! released the new search ad application program
interfaces (APIs) designed to support the new platform. Replacing the original
system that created the search advertising industry, Yahoo! new platform will
enable marketers to more quickly launch search advertising campaigns across
Yahoo! and its distribution network, and help achieve better overall return on
their search advertising investment.

The new platform will be deployed on a country-by-country basis, with
multiple phases within each market to help ensure a smooth transition for the
hundreds of thousands of businesses that advertise with Yahoo! and to allow
search engine marketers ample time to build upon Yahoo!?s new APIs. The first
phase, building the core data platform and technologies, is near completion.
The second phase will begin in the third quarter, when Yahoo! makes its new
campaign management application and initial features accessible to
advertisers. After the majority of advertisers have become familiar with the
new features in a given market, Yahoo! will begin the third phase in that
market, implementing a quality-based ranking model.

?We?ve designed our new platform to allow advertisers to reach Yahoo!?s
audience through search as well as take advantage of advertising opportunities
across all of our unique marketplaces, communications and social media
assets,? said Steve Mitgang, Yahoo!?s senior vice president of advertising
platforms and products. ?Yahoo!?s new technologies and features should
encourage more participation in search advertising by making it easier for
marketers to understand the performance of their campaigns and experiment more
frequently with the medium.?

The new campaign management application was developed based on input from
thousands of advertisers worldwide. The initial version will focus on overall
ease-of-use in launching and managing campaigns, and providing greater
visibility into campaign performance, coupled with more control over how to
improve performance The new features and capabilities that will be available
in the first version of the application include:

  • Intuitive Control Panel ? provides a simplified interface with
    user-tested navigation, allowing advertisers to easily understand their
    performance and providing them opportunities to modify or enhance campaigns
    every step of the way
     
  • Enhanced Geographic Targeting ? leverages Yahoo!?s WhereonEarth
    technology, which draws from 15 years of geo-targeting expertise to enable
    Yahoo! to more accurately understand and match to user search intent (?Soho,
    NY? versus ?Soho, London?) and colloquial terms (?restaurant near Fenway
    Park? is in central Boston, MA)
     
  • Fast Ad Activation ? provides a streamlined content review process that
    allows advertisers to launch most new ad campaigns in less than 30 minutes
     
  • Ad Testing ? supports automatic rotation of multiple versions of ads to
    determine the most effective, and, over time, displays the
    highest-performing ads more frequently
     
  • Visible Quality Index ? scores ads based on quality, bid and other
    relevance variables, and will be made visible to advertisers to enable them
    to gauge and optimize placement when the quality-based ranking model is
    implemented
     
  • Share of Clicks Forecasting ? displays data regarding the bid needed to
    achieve an estimated specific share of expected clicks, helping advertisers
    to set and reach traffic and conversion volume goals
     
  • Goal-Based Optimization ? enables advertisers to let Yahoo!
    automatically help find the least expensive way to meet their business
    goals-defined as Cost Per Acquisition or Return on Ad Spend
     
  • Assists ? shows advertisers the full value and contribution of every
    campaign by allowing them to see how ads drive both immediate and deferred
    conversions across multiple campaigns — not just the last click that led to
    a conversion

?While the enhancements to our platform are dramatic and will provide
immediate benefits to our advertisers, we ultimately rebuilt our system with
the future in mind,? said Mitgang. ?Once the first version of the core
platform is in place, we will be able to move quickly to build in capabilities
that ultimately will provide search advertisers deeper access to Yahoo!?s more
than 420 million users, broader advertising capabilities, proven targeting
expertise and global distribution network.?

Future versions of the new platform will include additional distribution
options and audience targeting based on factors that could include demographic
information or online behavior, as well as additional ad formats enhanced with
graphics or rich media.

For more information about Yahoo!?s current search marketing offerings,
please visit:
http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com
.

Are you a Search Engine Watch
member? Be sure
to check out the
longer version of this article!

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our Search Engine Watch Forums thread,
Yahoo
Announces New Search Advertising Platform Is Coming
. See also

Details On New Yahoo Paid Listings System
for what’s leaked before and
New Look
Coming For Yahoo Sponsored Search Listings
and

10 Reasons Yahoo Should Kill Direct Traffic Center
on issues some
advertisers have with the existing system.

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