Practical Ecommerce

Yahoo! Panama: So Far, So Good

Yahoo!’s new paid-search advertising platform is performing well for advertisers. That’s according to executives with three companies that have used the new system, known informally as Panama, since its inception earlier this year.

Leigh Vosler is paid placement marketing manager with Sierratradingpost.com, a Wyoming-based retailer of outdoor gear and apparel. Link Walls is senior product manager with ChannelAdvisor, a provider of channel management solutions that manages paid search campaigns, in North Carolina. Tim Kauffold is director of business development for OneUpWeb, a Michigan-based consulting firm that also manages paid-search campaigns for others. Sierratradingpost.com, ChannelAdvisor and OneUpWeb have all purchased search advertising from Yahoo!’s old system and its new Panama platform.

All three executives give Yahoo! positive reviews for Panama, which, they say, includes the following improvements and enhancements.

Instant Ad Approval — In most cases, ads are approved by Panama almost instantly. With Yahoo!’s old system, the approval process often took days.

Better User Interface — Panama’s user interface is much more robust than what Yahoo! offered previously. OneUpWeb’s Kauffold said, “Yahoo! is trying to get more in line with what Google does. This makes it much easier to use Panama, and, frankly, much easier to manage campaigns in both Google and Yahoo! because the interfaces are so similar.”

Quality-based Bidding — Panama ranks the order of ads based on its Quality Index (similar to Google and MSN ranking systems), which monitors an ad’s click-through rate and its relevance to corresponding keywords. This is different from the previous system, which based an ad’s standing solely on the keyword bid. For advertisers, the change means the top-ranked ad in Panama is not necessarily the one with the highest keyword bid, but rather the one with the highest Quality Index.

Advertisers who closely monitor the Quality Index of their various Panama ads can now achieve a lower cost per click and a higher ranking versus other advertisers who bid on identical keywords. ChannelAdvisor’s Link Walls says this can help smaller firms.

“For advertisers on Panama,” says Walls, “The focus is more on quality. This can help smaller firms achieve a lower cost per click and, simultaneously, a higher ranking, if these firms write very good ad copy and closely align that ad copy with the corresponding keywords.”

Leigh Vosler, with Sierratradingpost.com, agrees: “Panama’s quality-based bidding is working for us. We closely manage it, and we are seeing much better traffic, more relevant traffic, than before.”

Improved Groupings of Ads and Keywords — Panama allows many keywords to point to one ad and, conversely, a single keyword can point to multiple ads.

“The old system was very management-intensive,” says OneUpWeb’s Kauffold. “Each keyword had to have its own ad. You couldn’t test multiple ads for a single keyword or group of keywords. That’s now changed. It’s similar to what Google does.”

Geographical Targeting — Panama allows advertisers to target ads to a specific area. It does this, according to Yahoo! personnel, through use of a consumer’s IP address and other data collected by Yahoo!. This benefits advertisers who sell products or services in, say, Dallas, because they can now specify that their ads appear only for searches from users in Dallas.

The executives report other improvements with Panama, such as better and quicker reporting, better testing mechanisms and better management tools overall. Said Walls, “Panama has a keyword insertion tool that is very handy, for example. Advertisers can now easily insert the search term directly into the ad copy.

Vosler likes the increased competition between search firms.

“We’re excited that Yahoo! wants to compete with Google and MSN,” said Vosler. “It’s good for all search advertisers.”

Walls recommends that ecommerce firms “definitely try Panama.” Kauffold agrees: “It’s certainly the time to get back to Yahoo!. They’ve shown a serious commitment and in our experience they’ve offered very good support.”

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User April 12, 2007 Reply

    Kudos to Yahoo for coming out with such a strong advertising upgrade. The key for us, as advertisers, is whether Yahoo can make inroads in capturing more search traffic from Google.

    — *Joel*

  2. Legacy User August 10, 2007 Reply

    That's great, but Yahoo is a nightmare when it comes to reporting abuse.
    There are a few companies using dynamic keyword insertion where the name of my company winds up being the title of the ad. It's a blatant attempt at misleading my potential clients.
    So where is Yahoo now?
    I just spent 3 hours trying to find out where I can report this abuse.
    Aaaaaand once again Yahoo shows their true colors. I wish the public would just delete all links to Yahoo Search and Yahoo Directory.

    — *Chris*