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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yahoo!! Panama is Finally Live!

By now you’ve certainly heard Panama is live. At this week’s Yahoo influencer event, I was one of the first marketers to test drive the new Y!SM system. With Panama, Yahoo has introduced many exciting features such as a new dynamic account structure, enhanced forecasting and advanced analytic capabilities to name a few. I’ll discuss several changes and highlight their benefit to advertisers and how they’ll help with overall Y!SM campaign management. Here goes :)

It’s not the sexiest change announced but one of the most important Panama improvements is the more efficient user interface. For example, during the ad creation process, the new dynamic structure allows advertisers to input ad copy for a group of keywords (a la Google). It will no longer take advertisers hours to assign unique titles and descriptions to individual keyword in an account. Split-testing of ads is also now possible.

Furthermore, the local sponsored search product was eliminated and geotargeting features have been integrated in the new interface. Now, in a single account, advertisers can target by market, by region within a market or by city and surrounding areas (DMA) Advertisers will no longer designate advertising areas by radius or city or need a physical business address in the area in which they’d like to advertise (the last point relates to the old local sponsored search product).

Y!SM claims geotargeting matching technology is improved. An earlier acquisition of WhereOnEarth has introduced better match technologies and Y!SM will be able to better infer searcher intent via explicit search queries, Yahoo! user information and IP addresses. This is a welcome change as better matching technologies will translate into better ad distribution (for advertisers) and a better user experience for searchers. On the old system (over the last year), I ran tests using explicit queries with geographic qualifiers (i.e. Pasadena dentist) and queries would match to ads approximately 50 percent of the time.

Another beneficial feature is “fast ad activation”. With this, ads go live on the entire Yahoo network within five minutes (in my tests ads went up in about a minute on Yahoo.com). In the new system, ads will be automatically reviewed on the front end and manually reviewed on the back end after terms are placed online. Terms deemed sensitive (i.e. adult, pharmaceuticals, etc…) will be reviewed before they go online and will undergo more scrutiny than unflagged terms (these terms go through two editors instead of one).

Y!SM backend system changes are also worth noting. Y!SM has done away with large and often problematic system updates typically occurring over weekends. From now on, system updates will be smaller in nature, more frequent and cause no system downtime. This should translate into fewer account problems for advertisers. It’s worth noting Panama will be Y!SMs last large product launch and they’ll be moving to “rapid innovative releases”. With this, it seems Y!SM is more committed to getting thing working right for the advertiser than it is to the marketing hoopla around such projects. It’s refreshing to see Y!SM’s renewed commitment to a good advertiser experience.

Y!SM has also introduced some neat forecasting tools. By fiddling with the slider bar (referenced in Andrew’s previous post), advertisers can determine how many clicks they’ll get for a certain bid price. This tool will allow advertisers to assess the tradeoff between maximum click volume and the associated click costs. For example, an advertiser may decide to bid $1.00 per click for 100 clicks but not $5.00 per click for 115 clicks. The projection tool also shows an advertiser’s percentage of available clicks. If an advertiser wanted more traffic, they’d be able to determine the number of missed clicks and know how much missed traffic would cost.

Over the next few weeks, some Y!SM accounts will be given the opportunity to transfer from the old system to the new one. Yahoo! will set a date by which all accounts need to be migrated to the new system but the date will not be before Q1 2007, so that busy advertisers are not burdened.

If you’d like to be an early adopter of Panama – or what Yahoo is now calling “the new Sponsored Search” – you can submit your request here:
http://advision.webevents.yahoo.com/newsponsoredsearch/invite

Panama means a lot more useful features and benefits for advertisers. Stay tuned for more commentary on marketplace design (the new ranking algorithm set to launch in Q1), campaign optimization features and advanced analytics like the “assist” concept.

Posted by Mona Elesseily




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