Practical Ecommerce

Yahoo’s New Product Ads a Good Opportunity?

Product ads have populated search engine results pages since 2010, when Google added them to the AdWords platform. Bing followed suit in 2014. Even Facebook added product-focused ad units earlier this year. Therefore, it is no surprise that Yahoo has finally decided to jump on board and offer its own product ads.

Pure Yahoo, Not Bing or Google

Yahoo has been serving ads via Microsoft Bing since 2010, when the search alliance between those two companies began. Yahoo revised that agreement earlier this year to allow ads from its Yahoo Gemini system. Yahoo also struck a deal earlier this year with Google to serve AdWords.

So it can be a confusing to know where, exactly, any given ad on Yahoo is coming from. The new Yahoo Product Ads, to be clear, are served directly from Yahoo, via its Gemini system, not from the Bing search alliance or from Google.

How They Look

While researching for this article I searched on Yahoo for “Levis 541 jeans.” The search results looked like this.

Yahoo Product Ads appear on the top right of desktop search results, as shown in this example for "Levis 541 jeans."

Yahoo Product Ads appear on the top right of desktop search results, as shown in this example for “Levis 541 jeans.”

Note the three main blocks near the top of the screen.

First, there’s the standard set of three text-based ads. An ad from Levi.com is the top result here, though the ad describes football gear when I clearly specified not only jeans, but also the specific product line, 541. Whoever is managing that Levi’s account needs some help. The ad from J.C. Penney is good; it shows the address of the closest store. Macy’s wins, though, with an ad that mentions the specific product I searched for.

Second, notice the block of product ads on the top of the right rail. It shows eight products from Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Cabela’s and Lands’ End. The biggest problem here is that of the eight products, only one listing, from Kohl’s, has the actual product I searched for.

Third, see the organic results at the bottom. Levi.com is not the first result, incidentally.

Where Ads Will Show

Yahoo Product Ads will appear on search results and as display ads across mobile devices, tablets, and desktops. Yahoo also announced that product ads would show in search results for its newly acquired social shopping site, Polyvore.

While Polyvore is heavily skewed toward fashion, the site is growing and is highly visual. With an audience that is predisposed toward purchasing, Polyvore could help Yahoo test its product ads.

Curious Timing

In the world of retail, the holiday season and the last quarter of the year are huge. Retail and ecommerce businesses can go under if they don’t have strong sales during this period.

So, why would Yahoo announce and roll out such a pivotal shopping feature during the month of November? Yahoo’s official blog post was on November 11. Yes, Yahoo had many large brands on-board during the beta phase — Kohl’s, Overstock.com, and Wayfair, as examples. But the late launch gave most retailers and ecommerce sites very little lead-time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season in general.

Who Should Use Yahoo Product Ads

When an ad platform adds a new product or feature, the natural question for prospective advertisers is, “Why should I care?” I’ve asked that question numerous times with my clients, in fact. Here are the characteristics that make a good candidate for Yahoo Product Ads.

  • You have a robust product feed.
  • You are running Shopping campaigns on Google AdWords or Bing Ads.
  • You are in the fashion industry — given the Polyvore angle, this could be huge for fashion-forward brands and new entrants.
  • Your email list contains many “@yahoo.com” subscribers, meaning that these people are presumably regular visitors to Yahoo and may be using it as their primary search engine.
  • You are in a competitive industry and are always looking for new areas where your competitors may not be.

In short, Yahoo Product Ads can be a good option for merchants looking for additional volume and opportunity from their existing product feeds. Interested merchants can contact Yahoo Advertising to get started on its Gemini platform.

Robert Brady

Robert Brady

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