Yahoo Crosses Over with Panama

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Last week’s pre-release of Yahoo Search Marketing’s highly anticipated and much needed “Project Panama” means that after a couple of years as a second thought, Yahoo will have to be taken seriously again as a search-marketing channel. Ideally, Panama will be more stable than Yahoo/Overture, which routinely plagues advertisers with data issues. The big win here though is the emphasis Panama places on the need for relevance and some basic optimization and reporting tools that will be part of Yahoo Search Marketing.

Why am I excited?

Reason 1: Naming Conventions
With Panama, Yahoo has unified naming conventions across the two major channels. This is a major step forward. If we don’t all talk the same language as marketers our clients have trouble understanding the marketing. It also further isolates Microsoft as the third channel with their moronic “orders” instead of “AdGroups” ala Google and Yahoo.

Reason 2: AJAX
Yahoo’s leading edge Ajax team, led by Bill Scott has put an Ajax user interface in front of every marketer. This makes it easier for marketers to use the system and hopefully allows them to be smarter and more productive deriving greater benefit from the platform.

Reason 3: Quality Index
Any measure of relevance is a huge improvement over what Yahoo/Overture had before (nothing) and will be a boon to users and advertisers. Title and description testing will be more important and landing page relevance seems to a factor as well, especially with contextual ads.

Reason 4: Targeting
Little known to many, Yahoo has been a leader in targeting for some time with their Impulse system that targets display ads based on search history. Yahoo seems to have a bunch of cool geo capabilities in Panama. Geo targeting has the potential to be the single most important segmentation to deliver relevance and advertisers are only beginning to leverage the benefits of geo targets for things like seasonality, language and offline conversion. One only has to look to Japan (where Yahoo has a 63% market share) to see the way geo targeting will continue to grow, especially as a tool for delivering contextual relevance with mobile search.

Reason 5: Ad Optimization
Creative optimization will now be similar to Google where it shows the ad with the best CTR (is that really optimization?). Panama will also have the ability to generate tracking URLs with parameters for source, query and keyword. There is also the ability to track CPA & COAS. I imagine they will continue to build out feature sets for this.

Reason 6: Reports
The reporting features appear to be a huge leap forward, even from what Google has. This again not only helps us as marketers but our clients understand the impact being made to their business. Yahoo smartly realizes that this level of understanding and insight coupled with performance sends more ad dollars into search.

Of course Panama is yet to be battle tested but she looks to be a scalable major marketing platform. If there was any lingering doubt about the viability of search Yahoo has now solidified the search space by pushing search marketing and namely campaign optimization forward within a second major channel. These are big wins for businesses, marketers and users. Hats off to Yahoo!

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