Yahoo!’s Enhanced Targeting Features Reviewed

March 17, 2009

If you logged into your Yahoo Search Marketing account recently (or read Andrew’s post) you probably noticed a number of new features in the campaign interface. Hopefully, by now you’ve gotten to play around with the new settings and brainstorm ways in which
they might benefit your campaigns. If not, give it a try! You might even be impressed. Yahoo! has included some great features in this release, and below are my initial impressions.

Geographic Targeting:

Country Specific Geographic Targeting:
When it came to Yahoo geo-targeting, there was nothing more annoying than
having to individually select all 50 states (or deselect all 10 provinces plus
the 3 territories) when you didn’t want your ads to run in Canada. Thankfully,
this has been fixed and you can now deny your ads to low converting Canadians
with a single click.

Zip Code Targeting: Another solid,
if overdue, addition to the geo-targeting options, allowing you to get more
granular with your targeting and providing a big boost to local advertisers who
could only get as small as entire metro areas before.

These options were no-brainers, but
it is nice to see Yahoo get the easy things right.

Audience Time Zone Targeting:

Big win here for Yahoo, as they had
the good sense to let you day part based on the Searcher’s time zone instead of
the advertiser’s time zone setting. Call me crazy, but I think it’s safe to
assume that variations in conversion rates throughout the day are based less on
what time it is on the East coast (for example) and more on what time it is for
the searcher.

I’ve always thought this was a big
flaw in Google’s day parting settings, and I’m glad to see Yahoo take the lead
on this.

Demographic Targeting:

According to Yahoo, the majority of
searches on Yahoo are performed by people who are also logged into a Yahoo
account, and now they aim to let you take advantage of that.  The new demographic options will allow you to
adjust your bids based on age and gender, and it will even let you exclude kids
under the age of 17. It won’t, however, let you exclude other age groups or even
sexes; you can only adjust your bids on them.

This is the one new feature that
shows Yahoo leaping ahead of Google instead of playing catch up, and I think it’s
a great move to leverage one of the advantages of their portal based business
model. In some ways, this feature is still a little rough around the edges, but
it will be interesting to see how they develop it.

Bid Adjustments:

The new interface for adjusting
bids based on Geography, Time of Day, or Demographics is slick, intuitive, and well
placed in the campaign interface workflow. One problem though, you can only
adjust your bids up.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to
me, since it seems that most advertisers will prefer to set a baseline and then
bump specific age groups/locations/times up or down based on performance
numbers that mark them as outliers. As it is now, if you have one specific age group/location/time
that you want to pay less for, you’d have to set that bid level as the baseline
and then adjust all other group bids upwards.

This is unnatural, and it doesn’t
seem like it would have been much of a stretch to include an option to decrease
bids. Hopefully, we can look for this in a future release, but somehow I can
just picture someone in a corner office at Yahoo who finds it appalling that
his engineers would even consider making it easier for users to decrease their
bids. I hope I’m wrong here, but I really do feel that this feature will only be
half finished until that change is made.

Overall, I think this was a good update. Yahoo knocked out
some low hanging fruit with the geo-targeting options, one upped Google on
their day parting capabilities, and introduced demographic targeting features
that will be very attractive to many advertisers. What do you think? Leave your
comments below and let us know!

 Written by Kevin Hill
(Kevin.Hill at ChannelAdvisor dot com)