Yahoo Serving Images in Sponsored Search Listings

SMS Text

Yahoo Search Marketing is testing the serving of images embedded within their sponsored search results on Yahoo Directory pages. The images, which are being supplied by a company called ImageAdvantage, are generated either from a stock photo database or from their sponsors’ sites to the left of their Yahoo Search Marketing results.

One has to wonder, why serve these in the Yahoo Directory? Perhaps the Yahoo Directory needs a shot in the arm in terms of monetization. The Yahoo Directory may also be a testing ground for further expansion of this image enhanced Yahoo Search Marketing sponsored results or throughout the Yahoo Network.

Here are the results from the Yahoo Credit and Finance section :

Yahoo Search Marketing

Sponsors do not seem to have the choice as to which image is served and the images themselves are not linked to the sponsor sites. Images which are placed next to contextual ads do have a positive effect on click thru percentage (although frowned upon by Yahoo Publisher Network : see below), I’d image that Yahoo should see a similar trend in these tests.

While Yahoo had tested screen captures next to their contextual advertising in the past, but these Yahoo Directory images are in the sponsored search results themselves (the copy even indents to make room for the images).

I find this quite intriguing since Yahoo Publisher Network is fairly strict about images being close to their ads on third party sites, sometimes asking for a vertical bar between the image and ad placement.

From the YPN Program Policies :

  • The Ad Unit cannot be obscured in any way
  • The Ad Unit must be shown in the requested page, not as a pop-up or pop-under window or in an e-mail
  • The user must be able to tell the difference between the Ad Unit and other content on the publisher’s page.
  • The Ad Unit must be clearly labeled as “Ads by Yahoo!” and this label should not be confused with other advertising or links on the publisher’s page.
  • Images or other media cannot be associated with the Ad Unit.

Sure, Yahoo hosted Sponsored Search and Yahoo Publisher Network ads on 3rd party sites are unrelated, but I thought it relevant to show the two rules Yahoo themselves would be breaking if they were YPN publishers.

When do you think these will make it to the regular Yahoo Search results, and do you want them there?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
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  • Barry Schwartz

    New to me. Very nice find!

  • Pablo Palatnik

    I’d like to know how this affects advertisers CTRs. You can look at it two ways. 1) increase ctrs due to images sparking interest in searcher. 2) discourage searchers from clicking since sponsored search looks more like an ad now.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Note, the images are not clickable and are hosted by, aka. ImageAdvantage :

    “imageAdvantage™ possesses a unique ability to anctipate and understand the implications of new market trends and turn them into actions that benefit clients. Specifically, we help web publishers maximize their pay-for-performance revenue opportunities. Serving up over 500 billion hosted images every month, imageAdvantage is the partner of choice for some of the world’s leading web publishers worldwide, including Yahoo!, Miva, WhenU, InfoSpace and other industry-leaders.“

  • Search◊ Engines Web


    This comment by SearchEnginesWeb is what planted the idea for them to do this.

    The goal was to replace the sponsor links above the local with graphics ads on the right.

    But they saw potential in the idea to make their PPCs more attractive and competitive

    They are also doing this on the local listings

    Do a LOCAL search for TRAVEL and look at the sponsor links on top

  • Todd Mintz

    The pictures chosen for some of the adult directory pages, while not dirty, are absolutely hilarious given the subject matter of the pages. I would share examples but I’m guessing you don’t want to :.)

  • Patrick

    Seems like a smart solution given it likely increases click thrus while also delivering a more visually pleasant solution to end users.

  • 47

    I wonder how they decide if an image should show? I just went to the Credit and Finance page and it didn’t show an image for one of the ads.


  • meds4all

    I think it is good idea to display ads and it gives authenticity to ads and more clicks offcourse. but how they can choose images.

  • Rent A Car

    Maybe they just needed to add color to those dull boring directory pages. Sounds crazy but who knows..

  • Dan Perry

    May be a test to see what “generic” images do to click-thru rates. Then, they may test specific images, and compare the CTR. Just a guess.

  • maryt

    You may think Directory links are boring, but personally I think text ads are boring. It’s about time someone dressed them up with a picture.


  • Sheila A. Maloney

    I like the idea of images, it could help text ads be more relevant and effective.

  • john

    I can’t even open my %*)(&)_) email!!!!!!! Get this damned thing off of here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ConcordBridge

    I have been a delighted user of Yahoo! mail for years, however this ‘worthathousandwords’ thing has completely shut me down! No Kidding! I can’t even open an email. The reason I found this blog was because I searched their name. I thought it was going to be some new spy program crashing me! Yike!