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Yahoo Publisher Network : Three Days of Testing

Yahoo Publisher Network : Three Days of Testing

The first three days of serving primarily Yahoo Publisher Network powered contextual advertising have been an interesting experience. For those of you who need a refresher, in preparation for the Search Engine Strategies San Jose Conference next week where I hope to meet up with some of the YPN Team; Search Engine Journal has decided to take the plunge to go 100% YPN in order to get an honest feel of the system, its performance, ease of use and customer service.

The YPN experience, to date, has improved from day to day. From a relevancy and performance standpoint, YPN has improved dramatically since Monday which has a direct result on site monetization.

Monday July 31st:

For example, let us look at Monday’s examples and statistics. I’d rate Monday’s relevancy score as being a 2 out of 10.

 Yahoo Publisher Network : Three Days of Testing

The poor relevancy resulted in a low CPM, $3.97, and average click through rate of 1.2%. The Revenue-Per-Click (RPC) was extremely low, about half of what the RPC was on Tuesday and Wednesday.

If we had not made the commitment to stick with YPN for one week we would have probably switched back to Google AdSense based on Monday’s limited results (we made the switch Monday evening), but Search Engine Journal is sticking with our guns.

I utilized the YPN Ad Blocking tool to ban some of the offensive advertisements from being served and ‘tagged‘ Search Engine Journal under the Computer Category and Internet Subcategory. I had tried Marketing & Advertising as a tagged category in the past, but the end result were email marketing and MLM ads… something we’d like to stay away from.

Speaking of relevancy, the ads that are shown by YPN are based upon what Yahoo calls its ‘matching experts’ system which include the following :

* Contextual Engine : Targeting based upon the content of the page
* Ad Targeting : Publishers can “tag” their own site by defining their ad targeting category in the YPN admin
* User Data : Behavioral targeting or profiling (geographic & demographic)

Tuesday August 1st

Monday evening I sent off an email to Margaret Holland, my customer representative at Yahoo Publisher Network (Margaret appears in this video about YPN which I recommend that all bloggers & publishers take the time to view).

Ms. Holland shot me back an email early that morning stating that the relevancy problem had been fixed and she would be monitoring Search Engine Journal throughout the day to enhance the contextual targeting. Now that my friends is excellent and swift customer service!

The ads were not 100% on target, with Yahoo Personals and Yahoo Shopping ads showing on SEO and SEM oriented postings, but their performance improved substantially, with the CPM lifting to almost $6 – a 50% improvement over Monday evening.

Wednesday August 2nd

Like Tuesday, Wednesday’s YPN performance improved with more Search Engine Optimization and Search Marketing oriented text advertisements. We also ran more stories on Wednesday and one piece on Google and XM Radio Advertising was Dugg, which resulted in over 2,500 referrals from Digg.com.

Here is where the biggest difference in YPN and Google targeting comes into play. If the Google AdSense advertisements were being shown in the Google XM story, chances are that AdSense would’ve served a mix of SEM and Satellite Radio advertisements, then optimized for the group which was performing the better of the two.

My guestimate is that AdSense would have shown more Satellite Radio contextual ads, which are probably a bit of a higher Cost-Per-Click than SEO or SEM advertisements. Yahoo Publisher Network on the other hand stuck with the ads which define 99.9% of this site’s content; search engines & marketing.

The end result, a CPM increase on Wednesday of over 120% when compared to Monday’s earnings with a much higher Revenue-Per-Click (RPC) than Monday or Tuesday.

Today’s Conclusion

Seems that Yahoo Publisher Network is slowly and steadily improving its relevancy and performance day to day, and its current CPM is rather comparable to its main competitor.

Additionally, the CTR% is quite low in comparison to AdSense, which, in my opinion, is very beneficial to this site.

Why is a low CTR% beneficial? Because only a small fraction of our readers are leaving the site to follow the direction of YPN’s advertisers (which hopefully results in positive results for Yahoo Search Marketing’s clients).

We’re bringing in a respectable CPM from these contextual advertisements while 99% of our visitors are now reading the full stories, clicking over to other sites (which gives us presence in the referral analytics of other sites and companies), subscribing to our RSS feeds or attracted to other advertisements here at Search Engine Journal. Such is a win-win situation.

Expect more on our experiences with Yahoo Publisher Network in the upcoming days.

Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Yahoo Publisher Network : Three Days of Testing
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Yahoo Publisher Network : Three Days of Testing

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3 thoughts on “Yahoo Publisher Network : Three Days of Testing

  1. Mani, agreed, the customer service and responsiveness at Yahoo Publisher Network is top notch. I also am now being served some dating ads, which is strange. If I refresh, however, the more relevant SEM ads are being shown.

    Sure, as Mr. Cutts pointed out on Performancing.com, this is an influencial Search Marketing blog, so special treatment by the YPN staff in my case makes sense for them from a PR standpoint.

    I have heard, however, similar stories from other publishers AND YPN actually rides themselves in their service to members.

    Granted, I’ve never had to contact Google AdSense over the relevancy of ads, so I’m not sure which is better… no contact because there is no need, or superb contact because there is need.

    Regardless, it’s satisfying to know that there are reachable people behind the curtain at YPN :)

  2. Thank you for this report. At Simpy I use Google AdSense, and the numbers are quite far from the ones you report here. Far in the negative direction, unfortunately. Could be poor placement, could be poor ads, I’m not sure. I’ve contacted their support people a few times. They were quick to respond (the next day), but all answers so far have been pretty minimalistic, often making me have to reply to seek clarification or more information. I imagine the people there are overwhelmed with the volume of email they get from AdSense publishers and advertisers. Perhaps I’ll try YPN.