Tuesday, 26 August 2008

What do Yahoo! Think You're Doing? (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my rant about Yahoo! search marketing and the difficulties I am experiencing as an advertiser trying to advertise on Yahoo! as effectively as on other search engines.

This installment focuses on an issue that will be particularly concerning to advertisers that have previously experienced problems with match types on other engines.

As I write this blog post, this issue continues to flummox the account management team at Yahoo! UK. The issue has been forwarded to their technical counterparts but a solution has been outstanding for months now.


2. Yahoo! Mapping

Unlike Google, Yahoo! do not have as many keyphrase targeting options. Standard match is the option that is the most similar to Google's exact match but all keyphrases are set to advanced match by default. Historically, the advanced match option in Yahoo! has been a bit too vague for advertisers likings. Keyphrases have matched to incorrect terms causing Yahoo! search campaigns to be less efficient than other engines.

Although Yahoo! claim that the functionality updates delivered with Panama allowed them to tighten up their advanced match facility, it is still advisable to initially implement campaigns with keywords set to standard match.

But even this option creates problems for large advertisers that have the intention to run highly targeted campaigns.
It appears that terms on standard match automatically map to other terms within the account. This is a similar problem to Google's problematic expanded broad match.

For example, we are currently trying to bid on the phrase "Majorca Holidays". According to Yahoo, we are unable to add this term to our campaign because it is mapping to another term within our account. This term is "Holidays in Majorca". In order to increase the position on the term "Majorca Holidays" it is necessary to increase our bid on the term "Holidays in Majorca".

In my view this is ludicrous. If is deemed that the two keywords are so similar that an advertiser may only bid on one of the terms, then the results displayed on a search for "Majorca Holidays" and "Holidays in Majorca" should be identical.
Furthermore, all advanced match terms should match to both terms.

The auction on the two different keyphrases should be independent from each other in all eventualities. Why is it not?

The real question however
is why does this mapping occur? All the terms in our account are on standard match, not advanced match so why does Yahoo! choose to match one term against another without the advertisers' explicit permission?

The highest sales volume for my organisation comes from sales of Majorca Holidays. I wish to pay to advertise against the term "Majorca Holidays" It appears that Yahoo! search marketing cannot facilitate this.

Now if this keyphrase creates 100 clicks per day, at an average £0.50 per click, then Yahoo! are potentially throwing away £18,250 per year that I would prepared to invest with them on a single keyphrase. If 100 keyphrases are experiencing the same problem then this figure increases to £1,825,000 p.a. of advertising revenue from one account alone. Considering the nature of the recent and very public merger talks, I am not sure that Yahoo! shareholders would be as comfortable with these figures as their account management staff appear to be.

Part 3 will focus on minimum bid increases

Friday, 15 August 2008

What do Yahoo! Think You're Doing? (Part 1)

My mantra is to maximise potential in everything I do. I cannot stand to see businesses fail to capitalise on the opportunities that are available in their sector. This is particularly pertinent in the online world; Why is Friends Reunited not the success Facebook is? Why have online retailers not reacted better to Amazon's entrance and rapid growth in their sectors? And why do Virgin brands not dominate the SERPS?

With this in mind, I cannot understand why Yahoo! can't make any money. As an advertiser that invests considerably in paid search, I am willing Yahoo! and MSN to make inroads into the dominance of Google and reduce users and advertisers dependence on one engine. However, I continue to be frustrated with their inabilities to invest my budget prudently and effectively.

Exasperated at my efforts to get any answers from Yahoo! let alone any resolution to these issues, I want to highlight some of the ineffective elements to advertising with Yahoo! other advertisers with a view to putting some pressure on the internet giant to pick up the ball they have so clearly dropped.

I have been writing this post for the past few weeks and it is now turning into a thesis entitled "The ineffectiveness of Yahoo! search marketing for advertisers". Therefore, for the sake of my readers, I have split this post into three parts.


Part 1. Partner Sites

When you sign-up to Yahoo! paid search program, you sign up to have your adverts showing against keywords that users are searching for. If desired you can also sign up for the Yahoo! Content Network so that your adverts appear on websites with relevant content. These are the two options that Yahoo! tell about on signing up for a search marketing account:

"
There are two ways in which Yahoo! Search Marketing displays search results across their network – Sponsored Search and Content Match."

There is however a third option that Yahoo! keep relatively quiet. Partner sites use listings taken directly from the Yahoo! index to show alongside relevant content. An example of such a site listing can be seen on the results pages for price comparison site TravelSupermarket. These adverts are shown as they are targeted to the users search criteria. I am not signed up to the Yahoo! content network however, these listings are being provided by Yahoo! search.

This problem is exacerbated when you dig further into the sites that Yahoo! class as partners. For example,
sweet-deals.co.uk. This site is not a search site. It is a spam site that is built with the sole purpose of making the owner money in a similar fashion to AFD. It offers no value to user. It is not search advertising, it is content advertising.

The bad news is that there is no opt out of this scheme. If you sign up to Yahoo! paid search, you are automatically defaulted into their network of partner sites. This is really poor for the advertiser. Not only are they forced to advertise on spammy websites but the metrics on standard keywords are influenced by the performance of these sites. When trying to optimise keyword performance on Yahoo! these sites must be taken into consideration.

For example, how does a site optimise for the keyword "car insurance" when the performance will vary so wildly across traditional search and these partner sites. Worse still, it is not possible to track these sites individually, so I cannot differentiate between the performance of "car insurance" as a partner listing on the desirable domain moneysupermarket.com and the less desirable wealthygeek.com.

Not many advertisers even know that these partner sites even exist. Others are more vocal about it. I would urge every advertiser to stop worrying so much about the amendment to the Google trademark policy and contact their Yahoo! representative about this scheme and ask them what value they see in advertising here.

Part 2 will focus on Yahoo! Mappings.