This week, Yahoo announced some significant changes to its search marketing platform. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s new, along with my snarky commentary:
- Major changes were announced for ad targeting settings, specifically geotargeting, demographic bidding/targeting, and ad scheduling (or day-parting, if you prefer)
- You can set these new targeting settings at either the campaign or the ad group level. This is probably the most significant change, or at least the one that separates them most from their competition. This extremely granular targeting would be really awesome if the actual settings you can change were more useful. Keep reading…
- Under the new geotargeting system, you can now target zip codes (woohoo!), but you can only target a 3-6 mile radius around them (d’oh!). Normally, I’m all about highly targeted ads, but limiting your targeting to only 3-6 miles around a specific location is kind of silly. Why can’t we decide on our own radius distances, Yahoo?
- You can also make bid adjustments to make higher bids in specific geotargeted areas. Oddly enough, you can’t bid down if you need to. Seems like yet another Yahoo cash grab to me.
- You can also adjust your bids to go after a specific demographic. However, Yahoo admits they don’t know how accurate their demographic information is (“we get it from our partners and third-party vendors!”), so I remain skeptical about this strategy. I don’t think that demographic analytics are robust enough to try this in any search engine, much less Yahoo. They should have put the software development hours into better reporting, instead of a fluff feature that maybe only 10% of their customers will ever use.
- Speaking of reporting, Yahoo did add some additional reporting features, but they all revolve around geographic, demographic, and ad schedule performance to match up with their new features. You’re still limited to a scant few months of data, and you’ll miss out on the report granularity we all know and love in Google.
- There were a few changes to the Yahoo content network as well. You can now set content network budgets to be only a percentage of your total campaign budget to ensure that content clicks don’t monopolize your budget. Of course, this is assuming that you’re combining your search and content distribution in one campaign, which is a rookie mistake. It’s well known that the best practice is to separate these distribution methods into separate campaigns, so I think it’s silly that Yahoo would come out and endorse this method. Of course, they are more interested in making money for themselves than making money for their advertisers, so I guess I understand.
- Yahoo rolled out some improved forecasting for content network clicks, but they still don’t have a way to accurately review past content network performance with any sort of granularity. A content network campaign is useless unless you can gauge performance on which specific websites your ads showed on. I don’t use Yahoo content distribution, and I still won’t use it until they fix their reporting.
Basically, Yahoo announced a bunch of features that Google and MSN have been doing for at least a year now. The campaign/ad group level targeting is nice, but Yahoo reporting methods are still sorely lacking. Until they fix this, they’ll always be playing catch-up to the other guys.