Catherine "Cat" Seda

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yahoo!’s Panama is Here!

The official launch of Yahoo!’s new ad platform (code name “Project Panama”) has been top secret. Until now. It’s officially live.

Seven industry insiders, including me, just spent two days at Yahoo!’s office. We test drove the new platform. It’s good.

Yahoo! has dramatically improved our ability to manage and optimize our pay-per-click campaigns. Below, I’ve explained a few features you might have heard about. I’ve also exposed a few juicy tidbits and bugs I discovered during the meeting too…

Get Ready to Upgrade
Advertisers will start getting invitations with their scheduled upgrade date. Don't panic. You can defer your upgrade until 2007, if you want to wait out the holiday season. Want to get on the new ad platform ASAP? Then request to be upgraded through Yahoo!'s reservation link.

New Account Structure
Two huge improvements include: the ability to set a daily budget and the ability to do geo-targeting, at the Campaign level (note: “Category” has been changed to “Campaign”). Plus, no more writing one ad per keyword; you can assign one ad to an entire ad group. And Yahoo!’s new system lets you multiple ads for each ad group. Here’s the new account structure:
Campaign
Ad Group
Keyword
Ad

Alerts Feature
This is a handy feature. When you log in, you’ll see “Alerts.” These might reveal that you’ve run out of money. Or, that an ad has been disapproved. Helpful, right? Absolutely. And you can set your own series of Alerts to keep a watchful eye on particular parts of your campaign.

The Budgeting Feature

You’ll love this. This is one of my favorite features. Yahoo! now reveals the percentage of clicks you might get at different bids, for each keyword. While looking at a bar graph, you’ll slide the bid bar up and down to see how much traffic you could get at any bid price. It’s very insightful to see where the spikes in traffic are, at what bid price. Why bid more than you need to get the bulk of the clicks?

Disappearing Ads?
This bug will probably be fixed before I even publish this post. Just in case, I want to let you know about it. After writing my ad copy for a new campaign I created, I hit the “Back” button to see something on a previous screen. Because I didn’t finish the process, my ad disappeared and I had to repeat this step. Arg. That said, if you change to the new ad platform, when you add a new campaign finish the process to make sure that information has been saved by the system.

New Ad Ranking Algorithm
Sigh…no more bid to position. There’s a second phase of Panama coming: the new ad ranking model. Starting sometime in Q1 2007, Yahoo! will rank ads based on advertisers’ maximum bids, the ads’ click-through rate, and other factors. Although quiet about the exact ingredients in their secret sauce, Yahoo! did say that your ad’s landing page quality will impact your ad’s rank. How much? A small degree initially, which may be counted more heavily in future ad ranking updates.

NO! They’ll Killing the Keyword Selector and View Bids Tools!
When Yahoo! changes to their new ad ranking model, the public View Bids tool will disappear. And so might the Keyword Selector Tool. No, no, no. I can let go of the View Bids Tool. But not the Keyword Selector Tool! Even though the search volume isn’t all that accurate, it’s a great tool to show new advertisers the power of doing PPC on Yahoo!. They promised to come up with a better tool. Hmmm…we’ll see. And I’ll keep you posted. Until then, use the View Bids and Keyword Selector Tools like crazy over the next few months.

It sure was nice of Yahoo! to give us play money to test out Panama. Andy Beal and I were fighting over a top spot for a big ‘ole expensive “SEO” keyword. I won! Well, I had the #1 spot until I ran out of money. Then he won. Oh well, we enjoyed our free hour of expensive fame.
That’s all for now. I’ll write more soon. I’d love to hear what you think about Panama. Once you change over to it, come back and share your comments here!

11 Comments:

  • It was a lot of fun - I only wish the budgets lasted more than an hour. :-)

    Great meeting you!

    By Blogger Andy Beal, at 8:34 AM  

  • Just wondering if you can opt out of the spam, er I mean content network?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 AM  

  • Panama is pretty much a copy cat of Microsoft's adCenter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:50 AM  

  • Do these features essentially get YSM up to date with AdWords and MSN adCenter?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:53 AM  

  • Yes, you can still opt out of the content network.

    That reminds me...

    WARNING: Once you've been moved to the new platform, absolutely double check all of your settings.

    It wouldn't surprise me if all of your settings suddenly default to the ones Yahoo! prefers for you (for example, being in Content Match).

    I used a disabled account for the test drive so I'm not sure if my experience is going to be true for all advertisers -- but this is exactly what happened to me. So, watch out!

    By Blogger Cat Seda, at 11:59 AM  

  • Several of Yahoo!'s features are similar to Google and MSN (i.e. multiple ad testing). Each has a few unique features though.

    Hmm...a comparison chart of all three search engines would be most helpful.

    Maybe that's something I can put together in a few weeks, once I'm done writing my second book. :-)

    By Blogger Cat Seda, at 12:14 PM  

  • Good info SuperCat!

    What about the user experience...has it been simplified? I haven't used Yahoo/Overture in some time, but as I recall, the interface was not very intuitive/confusing.

    I'm am familiar with AdWords. As a point of reference, is it easier, harder or the same?

    By Anonymous Dan Safkow, at 12:55 PM  

  • Thanks, Dan.

    If you're comparing Yahoo to Google, they are now much more similar in terms of usability and time-saving management tools. Amen, right?

    You bring up an interesting point. I always saw Yahoo as being easier for PPC newbies.

    Yahoo's bid-to-position model, longer ad copy and lack of sophisticated features made it easier for first-timers to grasp.

    However, in recent years I've seen a lot of consultants and small business owners try Google first. These advertisers should have no trouble with the new Yahoo.

    Hey, why aren't you advertising on both (and at least testing MSN)? Generally speaking, advertisers only using Google or Yahoo are losing significant business. You need both. :-)

    By Blogger Cat Seda, at 9:36 AM  

  • Hi Catherine,

    Yes, i agree that the new tools and marketplace will be a great enhancement to YSM. Furthermore, it will help large advertisers that could benefit from a high quality score. We are looking forward to it!

    By Anonymous frank lee, at 11:07 AM  

  • Thing for me as a site that displays the overture adverts on my site as the main revenue stream - how will I be able to work out what the bid prices will be and estimate my revenue / know which keywords to choose when showing the ads..

    Seems a real pain, especially as they have not released any Panama Api's yet..

    By Anonymous Philip W, at 6:28 AM  

  • Hi Philip,

    There's an information site you may find helpful--

    http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/af/yws.php

    You probably know about this URL already, I'm guessing. Yahoo! has disabled the sign-up link until Panama is fully rolled out. So, stay tuned...

    By Blogger Cat Seda, at 11:43 AM  

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