Yahoo! upgrades search marketing

Yahoo! has revealed details of its long awaited overhaul of its search marketing arm. The new system introduces a new set of targeting features and a new API which will allow Yahoo to compete with rival products from Google and Microsoft.

Among the improvements that have been announced is a more user friendly version of its control panel to analyse the sales data. There are also a number of features which will allow search engine marketers (SEM) to bring better returns on their investments. These include functions such as the automatic rotation of multiple versions of ads to discover the best performers, displaying the bid needed to achieve an estimated specific share of expected clicks and ‘Assists’ which displays how ads drive both instant and deferred sales through multiple campaigns.

Better geographical targeting can understand the difference between similar sounding places like Boston, Lincolnshire and Boston, Massachusetts. Finally, for those who are not SEM experts, Goal-Based Optimisation allows advertisers to let the system automatically help find the cheapest way to hit their revenue targets set by user defined Cost Per Acquisition or Return on Ad Spend.

Yahoo! has also released details of new search ad application program interfaces (APIs) designed to support the new platform which will allow developers create their own front ends to the search marketing service. The company says that the new service will be rolled out on a country by country basis with plenty of time set to allow existing customers to migrate their programmes to the new system. The indications are that it will be several months before the new software is available in the UK.

Although Overture, which was bought by Yahoo in 2003 was the pioneer of contextual advertising against search results, the systems have been superseded by Google’s AdWords and also by Microsoft’s new AdCenter software.

Yahoo is promising additional new features including demographic and behavioural targeting, much of which is in the new Microsoft product. It is also promising new ad creatives such as graphics and rich media which are already available on AdWords.

It was only last year that Yahoo! Search Marketing finally automated the checking and posting of advertising on its properties. Previously, the company had a team of people to process the ads which led to delays of days rather than minutes before the promotional material was live.

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