First announced in April 2006, Yahoo’s “Project Panama” promised a revamped paid search engine marketing platform that would eliminate its “open auction” structure in favor of the invisible bidding format already in use by Google, MSN, and Ask. Yahoo began Panama’s launch in December and plans to have all of its clients utilizing the new platform by the end of February.
We understand why Yahoo had to remodel its search platform. And it sounds like they’ve made some nice improvements. The comprehensive dashboard, practically instant ad activation, testing capabilities, ad grouping, and scheduling features are just a few of the many new additions Yahoo has made to its platform. However the jury is still out, as many of Panama’s new features have generated mixed reviews thus far. Here are the major changes Yahoo’s PPC clients will face:
Account Dashboard – Although shocking at first, Yahoo’s new account dashboard promises easier management and better visibility and control over your campaigns. Your new dashboard will feature a performance overview complete with graphs and a customized “watch” list of your top campaigns.
Ad Activation – In what might be the most attractive new feature for Yahoo’s PPC clients, ads will go live within three to five minutes instead of three to five business days as was standard on Yahoo’s old platform.
Ad Testing – Advertisers on Yahoo will now have the ability to test drive their advertising messages in order to improve the quality of their ads. This means you can easily determine which messages perform best with your target audience.
Geo-Targeting – Yahoo now allows advertisers to target by location, narrowing ad distribution to cities and surrounding areas. When done correctly, this can help improve your ROI.
Campaign Scheduling – With the promise that you’ll more efficiently manage your ad spending, Yahoo now offers users the ability to control the timing of their campaigns with optional date scheduling.
Ranking – In the same way that Google’s AdWords works, Yahoo will now factor in the ad’s quality as well as the bid amount. The old system awarded the highest position to whomever paid the most for it. Now they will consider how well the ad actually performs along with actual bid amount for each ad.
Ad Groups – Keywords can now be grouped according to a common subject, so that keywords in groups can now be served with multiple ads. Hopefully Yahoo is right and this will save advertisers time setting up and monitoring their campaigns.
Reporting – Instead of pre-defined reports, Yahoo now offers reports that are customizable in order to deliver marketers more information that really matters to them.
After a rough go in 2006, obviously Yahoo’s intent is to make their pay per click advertising program more attractive and easier to use for advertisers, thereby retaining its current client base and attracting new ones. Panama’s initial announcement pleased investors, but is it enough to pull Yahoo out of the woods? We’ll just have to see what the outcome of 2007’s transition period brings.
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