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Yahoo is testing a new paid-ad placement and revenue model in Scandinavia that appears similar to the algorithm Google uses to determine the placement of paid advertising.

Basing its rankings on a combination of cost-per-click and the number of times search users click specific paid ads, Yahoo’s new ad placement system is expected to be rolled out in the UK in July.

While there is no official word on when the new system will be introduced in North America or other parts of the world, an announcement about Yahoo’s intentions is expected in the coming weeks with speculation on a global rollout in late 2006 or early 2007.

Codenamed, Project Panama, the switch is expected to bring a higher volume of click-throughs than the current system that determines ad placement based on the highest keyword bidder.

According to a story in Forbes Magazine, Yahoo has already notified a number of high volume search buyers of the upcoming changes.

Through its Overture pay per click search division, Yahoo has been found facilitating fraudulent click activity generated by known spyware makers including 180solutions, Intermix, and Direct Revenue. A study released earlier today, The Spyware – Click-Fraud Connection – and Yahoo’s Role Revisited, (Apr. 4, 06), shows how at least a dozen different spyware firms redirect Internet users searches through their servers, inserting Overture ad links on unrelated websites or with pop-ups triggered by those sites. Read more…

Yahoo has officially dropped the Overture brand name from its paid-search products. The company announced plans to drop the Overture name in the North American market at the beginning of March. Yahoo will phase out use of the brand internationally in the coming months though they will retain the Overture name in Japan and South Korea. Read more…

Yahoo will be killing the Overture brand name early in the second quarter as it moves to merge all its search services under the same banner. Yahoo also announced the beta version of the Yahoo Developer Network, an Application Program Interface (API) allowing search marketers and software developers to build Yahoo into search related tools they use or create.

Soon to be known as Yahoo! Search Marketing Services, (or likely, Yahoo for short), the re-branding announcement brings Yahoo’s advertising and search divisions together under the same name. The opening of Yahoo Developer Network signifies Yahoo’s commitment to competing with Google by allowing software developers and search marketers the ability to build time saving tools around the Yahoo! Search Marketing Service. The announcements coincide with Yahoo’s tenth birthday and day two of the mammoth Search Engine Strategies Conference currently underway in New York City.

Overture was the original pay per click search tool when it launched in June 1998 under the name GoTo.com. After hiring Ted Meisel as president of Overture later that year, the company successfully marketed the phrase “pay-for-performance” sparking the genesis of today’s powerful contextual distribution business model. The company thrived over the next few years, changing its name in late 2001, weeks before announcing its first partnership with Yahoo in November. After a year of rapid growth in 2002, Overture acquired Alta Vista and the search unit of FAST, AlltheWeb in February 2003. In early October 2003, Yahoo purchased Overture and its stable of search technologies, reclaiming its role as a serious contender in the business of search.

Yahoo will be phasing out the name Overture early in the next quarter in the US. After the re-branding effort is complete in the States, it will move to re-brand in international markets with the exception of Japan and South Korea where the Overture name will be maintained.

Advertisers should not see any major changes in policy stemming from this move. It is being done mostly to alleviate confusion between the various brands owned by Yahoo!, and to allow for better internal coordination between product units. If anything, advertisers and search marketers will save time as Yahoo’s core services will be accessible from the same page.

Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions will offer the following services in one suite:

  • Sponsored Search Listings, the flagship search advertising product
  • Content Match, Yahoo!’s contextual advertising listings
  • Local Match, Yahoo!’s local sponsored search offering
  • Site Match, Self Serve and Site Match Xchange, Yahoo!’s search URL submission products
  • Yahoo! Product Submit, the Yahoo! Shopping URL submission program
  • Yahoo! Express, the Yahoo! Directory URL submission program
  • Marketing Console, which enables advertisers to track campaign performance across multiple online channels
  • Search Optimizer, which allows advertisers to improve their campaign performance and reduce the amount of time spent managing their listings

“Our mission is to be essential to marketers of all types around the world,” said Ted Meisel, who is also Senior Vice President, Yahoo! Inc. in a press release “Unifying all of our search marketing and related products under one banner and one common approach reflects our commitment to integrate and simplify online advertising, allowing businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the Yahoo! search marketing solutions that best fit their marketing goals.”

Accompanying the re-branding announcement was the opening of the Yahoo! Developers Network API. Search is recognized as being the essential web-tool. Everything from weather information to airline tickets are found via search tools of one sort or another. Like its rivals, Yahoo offers several types of search tools such as images, maps, news, and video on top of general website search. By opening its own API, Yahoo is inviting web developers to build Yahoo search services directly into the products they create. For example, a Star Trek Enterprise fan-site could build a Yahoo powered search tool that finds video relating to quotes about the series. Similarly, a Phoenix Suns fan could create an on-site application that calls video clips of the brilliant point-guard Steve Nash. Marketers can build tools tracking specific campaigns and smaller search tools can combine their look and feel with Yahoo’s massive database to produce industry-specific results (vertical search) for unique business sectors.

Yahoo’s hard work to rebuild its brand strength against Google is slowly paying off with rises in market share and customer loyalty. By clearing up confusion between the brand names Overture and Yahoo and opening the hood to allow users to create their own versions of core products, Yahoo has given web searchers and marketers the gifts of clarity and empowerment. Ultimately it has given itself a gift of greater presence. Happy Birthday Yahoo!. Here’s to another ten years.

The extremely useful Overture keyword suggestion page has been crashing over the past few days. Used by thousands of SEOs as a way to judge the user-popularity of specific words and phrases, the Overture Keyword Selection tool was an integral part of the SEO toolkit.

The search engine marketplace underwent a number of changes in 2004 with the number of independent sources nearly tripling by year’s end. Twelve months ago, Google was the dominant search tool feeding information to almost every other popular search engine in one way or another, including its biggest rivals Yahoo and MSN. Going into 2005, Google still dominates the search engine market but the world’s most popular search tool has lost a great deal of ground to its former bedfellows. Yahoo introduced its own algorithmic search engine early last spring followed by MSN’s beta release of their own search tool in the autumn. Over the span of one year, Google’s control of organic results dropped from approximately 76% to the 45% share it owns today. Read more…

The past year saw immense growth in the search sector. Search is bigger today than it was twelve months ago in every respect. With the Internet becoming a larger part of people’s lives and broadband access becoming the norm around the world, 2004 was the year that big business fully recognized the full impact of search. Read more…

Internet advertising has evolved significantly over the years. In the beginning pop-ups were just that – pop-ups. When they open, you close them and move on. The original pop-ups are still there, but they have also evolved into interstitial ads – you know, those annoying versions that require some level of interaction to make them go away. Some times it’s a video, sometimes a static ad, but it’s always right in your face.

When PPC ads started appearing in search engines they were simple text ads separated by the non-paid listings – they were non-intrusive and un-offending to the searcher. Over the years they have significantly evolved, but to the searcher they, for the most part, remained the same. Most of the changes have been in the realm of the advertiser in terms of ad management and specific targeting abilities, in particular local targeting.

Google has its Local Targeting Options and Overture has its Local Match. A variety of other pay per click engines are offering Geo Targeting based on country, and soon, will likely offer very targeted city and precise searching by radius.

Now both Google and Overture offer the ability to target very specific locations, within 20 miles from a specific point by using the physical address or longitude and latitude. This precise method of targeted PPC advertising is still quite new, but will likely shift over to the second tier engines in time if it proves to be beneficial to both advertisers and searchers.

Such local targeting gives localized business the chances to advertise online with the chance of receiving qualified business. A small craft shop in Vancouver that does not offer online sales, can now place an ad online that will be directed to only local qualified traffic – no more wasted leads from searchers in Toronto.

Hacking The Locals

In Many cases, creating a successful Ad Campaign requires a look at the competitor’s ads. If you are targeting specific countries outside of your own, in many cases it is either near impossible, or extremely difficult to view the competition – until now.

If you are an advertiser in the US and also place ads targeting the UK, it is difficult to see your direct competition unless you are located in the UK. Although it may have been around for a long time, today I just learned of a Google hack that gets you around this.

After you perform your search in Google, go up to the address bar and at the end of the URL add the text ‘gl=uk'; (or instead of uk, any applicable country code), hit enter and you will now see a listing of AdWords ads that are targeted towards the UK.

FeedBack

Have you have an experience with Local Targeting for any of your PPC campaigns? I would love to hear about your positive and negative experiences! Email me at scott@StepForth.com.

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Yahoo Challenges Google

Yahoo’s Overture has picked up the Local Search gauntlet dropped by Google’s Adwords program in April. As Scott Van Achte writes this week, “Overture’s Local Match allows advertisers to promote their business regardless of weather or not they even have a website.” In this move, Yahoo is not only targeting Google’s Adwords program, they are also taking on the Yellow Pages. “It’s an important part of the search business,” said Overture spokesperson Gaude Paez. “Our own research, as well as the research of others, shows that many people who search for products buy them offline.” (quote from Jason Lopez NewsFactor Network article)

Localized search is one of the key features the major search engines are trying to perfect in order to present stronger competition to each other and other traditional listings services such as the aforementioned Yellow Pages.

In the organic listings, Yahoo is basing its localized results on the street address mentioned on a website while Google bases its localized results on the IP number of the computer conducting the search.

Google ADWORDS

In a recent Google mail out sent to AdWords advertisers, Google announced that over the next few days they will be introducing changes to their AdWords program in an attempt to increase the relevance of targeted ads and increase conversions.

Google’s improvements will give them the ability to more precisely identify the most relevant ads for a particular query, which in turn may result in more qualified traffic for some advertisers and less un-qualified for others. Read more…