August’s Most Surprising News – MySpace Serves More Ads Than Yahoo!

Yes, you read that correctly… since their income-driven site redesign in June, MySpace has begun surpassing Yahoo in number of ads delivered. According to Search Marketing & Technology News reporting on the comScore announcement:

“Yahoo Inc. lost its position in the U.S. marketplace for online display advertising to MySpace, which has served 56.8 billion ads 15.2% of the display ads on the Internet, while Yahoo recorded in at 53.1 billion display ads with a 14.2% share.”

While Yahoo earns more revenue, due to more expensive CPM, MySpace pages get loaded virtally non-stop, 24-7 by an highly wired generation who can’t go an hour without checking email… this is why there’s been a recent influx of major nationwide, even global advertisers, like Wendys, Sprint, Verizon, and Sony. Another interesting market quote:

“…even as the data indicates speedy growth of MySpace in terms of advertising viewer-ship, analysts say the social network site has struggled to draw top-dollar ad rates relative to Yahoo, known for attracting premium advertising rates.”

In plain English, this means MySpace is cheaper than Yahoo. Keep in mind, these are display ads – not text ads – so we’re not talking about any major pay per click upheaval. But we are talking about the fact that an “infant” of a web site, in terms of the relative age of Yahoo, is serving such a massive number of display ads and they continue to be relatively inexpensive as well.

However, all may not be well in fairly-tale MySpace land. As its core usership matures, many analysts expect these users to migrate to more useful and less offensive social portals, like Facebook, Twitter, possibly even to Yahoo’s My Yahoo webmail interface. MySpace is designed to throw as many ads as possible in front of its users in a spam-like way that some critics say it typical of the 90’s style “more hits = more money” mentality that just doesn’t work anymore. I tend to agree. In then end, the advertisers will determine whether or not this ad medium actually works or not. However, it seems fairly obvious that the Web 2.0 generation of social networking sites are indeed an advertising force waiting to be reckoned with.

Case Study: Better Together – YSM Staff

Yahoo! helps LendingTree test the benefits of combining paid and organic search

Who: LendingTree, LLC, an online lending exchange that connects consumers with multiple lenders who compete for their business.

Objective: Yahoo! and LendingTree wanted to quantify how using sponsored search ads and paid inclusion listings together increases traffic.

Products Used: Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro

Results: During the study, combining the two products drove a 61% lift in online visitation.

The Challenge

LendingTree assumed that adding Search Submit Pro, which lets businesses create natural search listings, to its Sponsored Search campaigns would drive extra traffic, but it was just that: an assumption. But now they wanted to better quantify the assumed benefit of a combined Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro campaign. Yahoo! commissioned comScore, a research firm that analyzes consumer Internet behavior, to conduct a study that would find out how much Search Submit Pro helps increase traffic, consumer engagement and conversions.

“We had an assumption of the benefits of using Search Submit Pro and Sponsored Search on the same page but we didn’t have a way to value the impact,” says Robert Pettee, Director of Search Marketing at the Online Lending Exchange.


In the span of three months, Search Submit Pro listings were turned on or off every Thursday, while Sponsored Search ads were always active on the first page of results during the campaign period. Test panelists were placed in two groups: one group was exposed to LendingTree Sponsored Search ads only; the other group was exposed to a combination of LendingTree Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro listings.


They found that the two products were greater than the sum of their parts—in other words, combining Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro on the same page can potentially build more traffic than using each product separately.

  • Yahoo! Search Submit Pro advertising drove a 61% net lift in online visitation among exposed searches.
  • Exposure to Search Submit Pro listings drove a 135% lift in natural listings clicks and a 21% net lift in sponsored ad clicks.

Branching Out

LendingTree is now looking at landing page options that can take greater advantage of the increased traffic garnered by Search Submit Pro participation.

“We now have a better understanding of the whole picture and are now less apt to change our paid search budget,” says Pettee.

— Roger Park, Manager, Marketing Communications

Helping the Garden Grow – Published by Yahoo Seach Marketing

How our Ad Profiling Program Can Help Your Keyword Performance

Think of your Yahoo! Search Marketing account as a garden — without careful maintenance, it can grow wild. The wilder it grows, the more difficult it is to maintain. Our goal here at Yahoo! Search Marketing is to lend a hand in the garden, which is why we’ve started a program called Ad Profiling.

With Ad Profiling, we analyze high-impression keywords within an account that are performing poorly, relative to the marketplace. We then evaluate whether or not there are steps we can take to help improve their performance and the performance of the ad groups to which they belong.

What is the Ad Profiling process?

Our primary goal is to preserve the keyword by improving its performance. Just as in a garden you might try using more or less water or adding fertilizer, in Ad Profiling, we have several methods we can employ to help keep your keywords growing strong:

  • Fix faulty alt text. Sometimes alt text can do more damage than good in a creative. For example, the following alt text may make the creative more relevant, but as you can see, it also makes it a little more confusing:

Keyword: dvd burning supplies
Alt Text: burning
Title: For All Your Burning Needs
Description: We offer everything you need to burn high quality DVDs and more.

Though no doubt this site wants to fulfill their customer’s needs – this probably isn’t quite what they had in mind. However, when you tweak the alt text just a bit, it makes a lot more sense:

Keyword: dvd burning supplies
Alt Text: dvd burning
Title: For All Your DVD Burning Needs
Description: We offer everything you need to burn high quality DVDs and more.

  • Add alt text when keyword insertion is being used with no alt text in place, leading to a confusing ad. For example, the following creative is a little bit confusing:

    Free Shipping on Stephen King
    Browse our huge collection of Stephen King at great prices.

Since the site in question clearly doesn’t ship Stephen King himself but rather his books, alt text that simply reads, “Stephen King,” doesn’t quite work. However, when you add “books” to that alt text, you get:

    Free Shipping on Stephen King Books
    Browse our huge collection of Stephen King books at great prices.

  • Replace the ad when the existing one just isn’t working. A new creative written with the entire ad group in mind can usually help improve an ad group’s performance. In cases where the suggested creative uses keyword insertion, alt text is added for the other keywords in the account. That new creative is then uploaded with an “offline” status and only turned “online” when the advertiser approves it.
  • Remove underperforming keywords. In some cases, the best thing for the ad group may be to take the underperforming keywords offline. Removing underperforming keywords can potentially improve the ad group’s quality index score, which could lead to better ranking and lower cost per click.

When would keywords be turned off?

Here are some reasons why we would take the underperforming keywords offline:

  • Relevance: if the keyword is not clearly relevant to the site’s offer.
  • Ad group impact: if after reviewing the ad group it is determined that a new creative wouldn’t help the majority of the attached keywords, then the underperforming keywords are turned off.
  • User intent: when keyword-to-site relevance is present, but the offer simply isn’t what the majority of users are looking for when searching on the keyword.

A good example of a user-intent issue would be someone in the market for a new car searching on the keyword “cars” and finding the following listing:

Cars Movie on DVD
Visit to find Cars and all your favorite movies.

Though the content is relevant to the keyword, it’s clearly not what the user is looking for. People searching on “cars” are usually looking for actual cars, not a DVD, so a listing offering DVDs will probably not get clicked.

Another user-intent issue would be scope, when it’s just too difficult to understand what the user is looking for. For example, someone searching on “electronics” could be looking for just about anything, so the following listing might not appeal to them:

Best TV Wall Mounts
Strong Flat Screen Wall Mounts Low Prices Always In Stock.

If you would like to keep the keyword, you may turn the keyword back on so long as it is relevant. Please keep in mind that the keyword’s performance may be dragging down the performance of the ad group. Instead of simply bringing it back online, we recommend you create a new ad group with titles and descriptions that are clearly tailored to the keyword.

What don’t we do with Ad Profiling?

  • Change your bid. While one of the effects of Ad Profiling might be a performance-driven reduction of cost per click for impacted terms, one thing we would never do is adjust your bid
  • Turn a new ad online without your approval. We upload new ads to your account, but leave them offline until you tell us otherwise
  • Turn a keyword offline without first reviewing other options.

What impact have we seen so far?

  • Increased marketplace quality.
  • Increased clickthrough rates.
  • Reduced costs for clicks.

The basic idea behind Ad Profiling is to help advertisers improve their account by trimming back the “weeds” so that the healthy plants can grow — not to mention trying to determine which weeds are actually flowers that just need a little more water in order to flourish. We want to help people transform their accounts from window boxes into beautiful gardens and Ad Profiling is just one way that we help you, the gardener, to accomplish that task.

— The Ad Quality Team

Where’d My Ad Go? – Yahoo Search Marketing

Why your ads may disappear, and how to give them more time in the spotlight

You’ve probably felt a certain thump of pride when you do a search on your product and see your ad pop up in the Sponsored Results.

But at other times, you might have experienced a “where did it go?” moment. This occurs when your ad is nowhere to be found, and yet you know there’s still money in your budget. One answer to the question might be what we refer to as “budget smoothing.”

Here’s what’s going on: Our system is designed to check your click charges to see how close you are to your spending limit, and adjusts the display of your ads to ration your spending throughout the day. That way, your whole budget isn’t blown in the first few hours that the ad is online.

Female marathon runnerA good comparison is a marathon runner. If she uses all of her energy by sprinting full speed from the get-go, she’ll quickly run out of gas and never make it to the finish line. We want to help you keep your ads available around the clock for searchers to find, no matter whether they’re jumping on the web before they go to work, during the day, or in the wee hours of the night. So we developed a way to pace those ads like a marathon runner, without you having to use one extra ounce of energy to get the most out of your budget.

How to Compete With the Big Boys

If your ads are not being displayed as often as you like, it may be time to take a look at how your spending limits and bids are set. To help get your ads displayed more often, consider increasing your spending limits. If that’s not possible, there are ways to work within your means and still compete with the deep-pocket competition.

While you may not have the advertising budget to maintain round-the-clock ads in top positions, there are ways to help get your ads in front of searcher eyes more often at lower cost. First, go for specifics. Consider selecting keywords that have lower minimum bids and are targeted for a specific service or product that a searcher may specifically type in. Not only are these “tail” terms likely to be more affordable than general terms, they are less liable to blow your budget.

With a few smooth moves of your own, you can keep your ads online and break the tape at the marathon finish line—without breaking the bank.

— Kastle Waserman, Communications Manager, Yahoo SM

Photo courtesy of Shannon Bullard, Go Boston Card Blog