Yahoo released the much-anticipated “Panama” search-marketing platform today. In the Q2 earnings call, CEO Terry Semel had indicated that the platform would be delayed into Q4 or potentially Q1 of 2007. That precipitated a run of bad PR.
But today the platform went live. I got a “hands-on” look at the functionality with a number of others in Burbank over the last 48 hours. We also got a “deep dive” on the Yahoo! Publisher Network as well. YPN showed us an interesting and expansive roadmap with a range of small business implications.
The new Panama platform offers increased simplification but with a range of tools for sophisticated search marketers (most interesting among them are forecasting capabilities).
I’ve run search marketing campaigns but I’m not a search marketer, and so my insights into the technical issues are not going to be as nuanced as some (see below). But I was impressed by the ease of use, the graphical interface and tools that the new Panama platform offers.
For example, bids can be adjusted by using a slider on a graph that also shows the available traffic at higher bid levels. You can see the share of traffic that you’ll receive at certain bid levels.
The old Overture platform, in contrast to Google, required editorial approval that often meant days before ads went up. The new platform offers expedited “fast ad activation.” Trademark remains an area of human intervention, however.
Among other upgrades, Panama has much-improved geo-targeting. The old platform didn’t allow local targeting other than by businesses with a physical presence in the particular market. Google had a much more flexible product. The new Yahoo! capability allows for expanded targeting by states (or provinces), cities and DMAs.
The analytics (if tags are installed) have a range of tracking capabilities, including impressions, clicks, CPMs, CPAs and, most interestingly, “Assists.” Right now the first or last clicks (especially the last) get the most credit for conversions. But “Assists” starts to show the relationship of a pattern of clicks prior to a conversion and tracks a broader range of behavior throughout “the funnel.” It will also start making the branding value of search more transparent to marketers.
Yahoo! will give current advertisers the option to migrate starting today. New advertisers will have to wait for another couple of months to get access.
We didn’t get this demo, but we were told that the initial sign-up for new advertisers features a monthly budget window (which is then translated automatically into a daily budget). In addition to manually creating keyword lists (the old fashioned way), they can be created by plugging in a representative URL (one’s own or another), which greatly simplifies the process of generating them.
The much-publicized “monetization gap” between Google and Yahoo!, in terms of revenue per search, should be closed when it’s “marketplace design” parallel initiative kicks in late this year. That takes into account the ad’s “quality” in deciding which ad to serve and in what order. Previously Yahoo! Search Marketing based that determination on bid price alone.
Here’s the coverage by the others who were in attendance. Some have posted and some have yet to:
- Barry Schwartz (he’s got a bunch of screenshots, including geotargeting)
- Andy Beal
- Andrew Goodman (lots of good additional information that I didn’t discuss)
- Jen Slegg
I did this at the airport so forgive the post if it’s disjointed. More later.
Related: You can see the Yahoo! earnings release here.