This afternoon Yahoo announced that it is finally going live with the rollout and transition to its new Yahoo Search Marketing platform, dubbed ‘Panama’.
Yahoo is converting over its first group of advertisers to the Yahoo ‘Panama’ system today, and expects the majority of Yahoo advertisers to be transitioned into the system by the end of the year, with the option for advertisers to make the switch after the busy Christmas season.
First impressions are overwhelmingly positive and it looks like the new Yahoo Search Marketing will ideally:
* Close the monetization gap with Google
* Breathe new life into Yahoo Search
* Monetize Social Media
* Boost the growth and popularity of the Yahoo Publisher Network
Here is a message from Yahoo on the change:
Starting today, we’ve begun inviting advertisers in the U.S. to upgrade to the new campaign management application. In fact, we even had our first external customer transition to the platform today.
What does this mean? This marks a significant turning point in our efforts to deliver additional value for advertisers, helping them better manage their campaigns to realize increased returns. In addition, we believe that through this platform, we will be able to unlock the full potential of our large global user base and improve our search monetization capabilities.
To facilitate a smooth upgrade, Yahoo! will transition customers from its current system to the new platform on a market-by-market basis. Invitations to upgrade will be issued in stages to U.S. advertisers over the remainder of the year and early next year. Since our goal is to ensure a smooth transition, we will be flexible and accommodate those advertisers that wish to defer the upgrade until after the holiday season.
Yahoo invited a handful of influential search engine bloggers to preview the launch of the new Yahoo Search Marketing and although I could not make it to California for the party, Greg Sterling, Andrew Goodman and Barry Schwartz did make it.
I did, however, have the chance to review a demo of Yahoo Panama last Spring and covered its system features at Search Engine Strategies; here are some highlights from that post with screenshots of the new Yahoo Search Marketing:
Pricing & Targeting
The first system change is probably the most relevant to current advertisers; the Yahoo Search Marketing pay-per-click price checking system.
The pricing system will transform from auction clicks to a newer more marketable PPC system based upon ROI and Quality Score (dumping auction set-up).
Marketing focus with emphasization on quality, multiple segment targeting, and the management of those objectives.
Targeting, like PPC, is more than keywords and creatives are beyond text with graphics and user media. Calls to action will go beyond target URL with couponing and specific landing destinations geared towards the user’s web surfing application of choice – mobile PDA, laptop, cellular, PC.
Campaign Set Up Preview
Set up begins with the definition of geotargeting which is determined by the advertiser in a new system which empowers the user to select specific local DMA’s and area zones with help from a Yahoo Search Marketing mapping system.
Secondly the campaign is named by the user, sponsored listings or contextual match are selected, then Yahoo helps the user determine keywords with a new recommendation system.
The advertiser then selects pricing via a new Yahoo CPC/Click system which works via a slider bar mechanism which provides a landscape of bids & clicks. This way, the advertiser can set up their campaign to provide a certain amount of clicks while Yahoo also informs the advertiser of shares of potential clicks and their competitive market within the Yahoo Search Marketing marketplace.
Yahoo now also lets advertisers insert dynamic keywords into their title and ad copy along with a Yahoo powered split A/B testing service which can be optimized by Yahoo, or manually via the advertiser.
Budgets can be set at both the account and campaign level, letting particular test or differently targeted campaigns run on a certain percent of the budget.
Dayparting (even coast to coast differentiation) and campaign scheduling are planned to be part of the system, which should help newer marketers get a campaign up and going over a certain amount of time more efficiently than in the past.
And more recent coverage from Greg Sterling:
Among other upgrades, Panama has much-improved geo-targeting. The old platform didn’t allow local targeting other than by businesses with a physical presence in the particular market. Google had a much more flexible product. The new Yahoo! capability allows for expanded targeting by states (or provinces), cities and DMAs.
The analytics (if tags are installed) have a range of tracking capabilities, including impressions, clicks, CPMs, CPAs and, most interestingly, “Assists.” Right now the first or last clicks (especially the last) get the most credit for conversions. But “Assists” starts to show the relationship of a pattern of clicks prior to a conversion and tracks a broader range of behavior throughout “the funnel.” It will also start making the branding value of search more transparent to marketers.
The much-publicized “monetization gap” between Google and Yahoo!, in terms of revenue per search, should be closed when it’s “marketplace design” parallel initiative kicks in late this year. That takes into account the ad’s “quality” in deciding which ad to serve and in what order. Previously Yahoo! Search Marketing based that determination on bid price alone.
And from Andrew Goodman of Traffick:
We got an extensive rundown of the new ad ranking formula. The pricing formula may include a larger than expected price discount for ads with very high relative quality score. Other relevancy factors will be included in the Quality Index. Yahoo won’t reveal much, but in an upcoming newsletter for Page Zero Advisor subscribers, I’ll get into more detail. I’m also hosting a PZCast audio roundtable of all the attendees of yesterday’s demo. We’re recording that Friday – again it will be available to PZ Advisor subscribers. (see page-zero.com for subscription info)
Potential impact on search user satisfaction – the emphasis on quality creates better user satisfaction so both more revenue for Yahoo *and* potentially stems slide in search market share. But is it enough?
Overall, this is a huge improvement, with everything from fast ad activation to helpful, intuitive reports. Eye candy includes excellent projection tools with scenario graphs to indicate projected clicks based on increased bids and thus improved ad position.