Yahoo! Sponsored Search: Introduction

By Janet Driscoll Miller | May 30, 2006
More Articles by Janet


While Google boasts the most search traffic, Yahoo isn’t far behind, and definitely remains an engine you should consider when selecting a pay per click advertsing medium. According to a 2004 Nielsen NetRatings study, Yahoo properties reach 80% of all Internet users. And other studies show that Yahoo! tends to be a more consumer-based search engine than Google, so if you sell consumer goods or services, you should definitely try Yahoo! Sponsored Search as part of your online marketing mix.

Personally, I find Yahoo!’s interface to be much more clumsy and difficult to use than Google AdWords, but there are some features that I think are very good. Yahoo! has announced that they will also be incorporating many of the features that are currently lacking, such as ad rotation, sometime in 2006.

<h2>Setting Up Yahoo! Sponsored Search</h2>
Setup for a Yahoo! Sponsored Search account is wizard-driven and fairly simple to do. Yahoo! will request a credit card for billing. Like Yahoo!, you can enter more than one credit card for billing. HOWEVER, Yahoo! will only bill one credit card, unlike Google AdWords, which will try billing an additional credit card in case the first credit card fails.

There is an initial fee of $30 to start your account, and there is a minimum monthly spend of $20/month, unlike Google AdWords, which has no minimum monthly spend or startup fees. There is also a minimum bid per keyword of $0.10/click.

One option, however, that Yahoo! Sponsored Search offers that Google AdWords does not is a professional setup by Yahoo! employees. Yahoo! will develop a keyword list, set up your ads and get you started for a one time fee of $199, which may be helpful if you don’t know where to start.

<h2>Categories</h2>
Similar to the organization of Google AdWords, Yahoo! Sponsored Search is organized by “categories”, although these do not work the same way as Google AdWords campaigns or ad groups. Categories are simply a way to organize keywords. You can, however, turn whole categories on or off as needed. I typically organize my Yahoo! keywords into categories that match my Google AdWords campaigns for reporting purposes. This is especially helpful if you manage a great deal of keywords as I do.

<h2>How It Works</h2>
One of the benefits of using Yahoo! Sponsored Search is that you can determine your exact ad placement on the page. When managing bids, if you have the highest bid, your ad will be the top position. This is not always true with Google AdWords or MSN AdCenter.

However, Yahoo! Sponsored Search, as it exists today does require more daily monitoring and overall setup than Google AdWords.

<b>Keywords</b>
First, like with any PPC campaign, you’ll want to develop your keyword list. Yahoo! treats plural versions and singular versions of words as the same word, so there’s no need to have both the plural and singular version of a keyword. Also, words with spaces and no spaces can be treated as the same word, so there’s no need to add “health care” and “healthcare”.

As you add your keywords to Yahoo! Sponsored Search, you’ll also have to add your adverisements…

<b>Ads</b>
Unlike with Google, Yahoo! PPC ads are attached to a particular keyword, whereas ads in Google AdWords are part of an “ad group”, and keywords are also in an ad group. The trouble with this method is that you must copy the same ad over and over for each keyword that you add to Yahoo!, and each keyword/ad combination must be approved by Yahoo! editorial, which can be very time consuming. Additionally, there is currently no ad upload feature, like MSN, where you can add many of these ads by uploading an Excel spreadsheet.

One positive aspect to Yahoo! Sponsored Search ads, however, is that they allow many more characters in the title and description for the ad than Yahoo! or MSN.

Some rules to follow to help your ad pass Yahoo! editorial’s test:

<li><b>Don’t use symbols such as an amphersand in your ad.</b> This is allowed with Google, but not with Yahoo!.

<li><b>Don’t include a phone number in your ad.</b>

<li><b>Don’t use numerals instead of written numbers.</b> Again, also allowed by Google, but not by Yahoo!.

Tomorrow: More on Yahoo – Setting Bids, Budget and More

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