Adjusting Campaign Settings Like A Pro: Yahoo (Part 2)

Last week, we continued our series on adjusting PPC campaign settings by looking at how to optimize Yahoo Search Marketing campaign settings. This week picks up where we left off:

Campaign Optimization Guidelines

In this section, you can adjust the settings for Campaign Optimization, if you opted in to this function within the “Campaign Budget and Schedule” section. You can tell Yahoo’s campaign optimization to work toward a certain business objective (clicks, impressions, conversions, or revenue), or try to improve your conversion funnel by assigning relative value to events within your funnel (i.e. a page view, shopping cart addition, or a lead form submission). As I mentioned in Part 1, I’m not very keen on using PPC providers’ account optimization functions since they only have the incentive to get you to spend more money on PPC – they could probably care less about your bottom line. But, if you just don’t have time to manage your PPC account and you’d like to automate the process, this may be a good option for you. But beware – if you set your optimization settings incorrectly, you just might amplify mistakes instead of solve them. Algorithms can run amok if you don’t watch them carefully.

Network Distribution

Here, you’ll be able to change your settings for ad targeting. First, you’ll need to decide whether to adjust your settings at the campaign or ad group level in “Set Level” box. For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume you want to keep the settings on the campaign level.

In the “Network Settings” subsection, you can choose whether you want your search network ads to appear in Yahoo Search (searches on and Yahoo toolbars), Yahoo Partners (sites that use Yahoo for site search), or both. If you’re just starting out, it’s usually best to opt in to both to judge performance. Once your campaign has run for a little while, you can check back at this setting to see a performance breakdown by network. Then, you can make an informed decision on which network(s) to use.

Next, you’ll want to adjust your targeting. If you just want to reach all of the US (or whatever your home country is) at all times, you can just leave the defaults as-is. But, if you want to get fancy, you can adjust your demographic and geographic targeting, and schedule your ads to show at certain times of day and days of the week.

In the “Demographic Bidding” subsection, you can adjust your keyword bids for specific age and gender groups. For example, if your target audience is women ages 30-45, you can set your bids to be 150% of their normal amount for searches from that particular demographic. You can also block your ads from showing to users age 18 and under on this screen.

Now, keep in mind that web demographics aren’t an exact science. Since you can never really know who is behind the computer doing the searching, accuracy is a huge problem with demographic targeting. Yahoo is just making their best guess at the identity of the user based on if they are signed in with their Yahoo profile, or if they self-reported accurate information. Sometimes you’re relying on third-party data of dubious accuracy. Use demographic targeting if you have a very specific audience in mind, but be aware of its limitations.

Geo-targeting is much more reliable, since search engines can reliably read the IP address of the user making the search. Here, you can set it so that your ads only show in a specific country, state, or metro area. This is really useful if you only offer services at a specific brick-and-mortar location, or if you can only service certain parts of the country. You may also want to experiment with geotargeting if you know your best customers come from a certain part of the country, and you’d rather not waste limited budget dollars getting ad coverage somewhere else. You can even increase your bids in certain geographic areas if you find that certain areas have a more competitive PPC landscape than others.

The last campaign setting to look at is ad scheduling. This is where you can shut off ads during certain days of the week (like over the weekend), or limit ad impressions to certain hours of the day. This is really useful if you need to take orders or leads over the phone, and you only want to show your ads when someone is available to take the call. You can also use this to help stretch your budget, limiting ad coverage to your most profitable hours or days of the week. And, if you want to keep a leg up on the competition, you can even adjust your bids to be higher at certain times to ensure you remain in top positions.

That’s it for Yahoo. Join us next week when we continue our campaign setting optimization series. Next up: MSN AdCenter.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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