Yahoo Continues Quest for Relevancy

Not Bowing Down to the Forces of Google!

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Yahoo is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Justice on their proposed search advertising deal with Google, but that has not stopped them from making adjustments to their own advertising platform. In fact, some think they might even be doing it to emphasize to critics of the deal, that they are still serious about their own advertising endeavors, and are not just bowing down to the forces of Google.

Google itself has emphasized time and time again that this deal is good for competition, and will not hamper Yahoo’s advertising offering. Yahoo has been relatively quiet on the issue in comparison, leaving most of the defensive tactics up to Google. Google has put up a website dedicated to the "facts" about the deal, and their lawyers are even calling advertisers asking for testimonials for the deal.

Yahoo Search Marketing has implemented a new system for geo-targeting so users can better pinpoint their target markets. Users can now select targets as wide as an entire country, and as narrow as a single zip code. According to Zachary Rodgers at ClickZ, who notes that Yahoo’s geo-targeting offering trumps Google’s who only offers it down to the city level:

In a statement that seemed crafted to address the DOJ’s concerns, Yahoo said the new features are "reinforcing its commitment to be a leader in search."

Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, noted it’s unlikely Yahoo undertook its enhancements to appease U.S. investigators. However, he said the move may serve to kill two birds with one stone — convincing both advertisers and investigators that it still means to provide a serious alternative to Google.

Yahoo Search Marketing Geo-Targeting

Further evidence to support this notion (aside from Yahoo saying flat-out that they intend to invest the money they make from the Google deal into their own ad platform) is the incorporation of SearchMonkey applications into general Yahoo search results. This seems to be nothing more than an attempt to boost relevancy in the way Google tries to do with their own applications showing up in results (like Google Finance and News for example).

Yahoo’s latest attempt at social media seems to indicate an additional component of a strategy to bolster use. This attempt has been the object of criticism (unsurprisingly considering Yahoo’s past endeavors into social media), but you might say the social aspect could lead to increased relevancy as a whole too. User engagement (via social elements) can potentially lead to the sharing of relevant information between friends. After all, who knows the user better than their own friends (kind of Facebook’s mentality with Beacon).

These are the kinds of things I believe Yahoo is looking at as firepower when it comes to competition with Google, Microsoft, and anyone else in the long run. The search game has long been a quest for relevancy, and Yahoo is banking on opening up their services in more ways than one to achieve this (no matter how many jobs they cut).

However, no matter how much they improve relevancy, they still have to overcome Google – the brand. Yahoo has a brand too. There’s no question about that, but Google has become synonmous with "search" for many (even as a verb).

But back to the geo-targeting. Kastle Waserman, Communications Manager at Yahoo notes the relevancy as the goal of this type of marketing. "Keep in mind the more you target, the fewer users your ads may reach," says Waserman. "Generally, you’re trading relevancy for volume, narrowing your target to a specific audience rather than every potential eyeball in the overall market."

To access the new features, Yahoo tells users to:

- Click the “Campaigns” tab.

– Choose a campaign.

– Click the “Campaign Settings” drop-down located in the upper right-hand corner (above the graph).

– Select “Geo-Targeting.”

At that point, you can select your target from a drop-down menu accompanied by a map that shows the areas you are selecting.

Not all marketing campaigns will call for the relevancy delivered from a geo-targeted campaign. After all, some products are potentially relevant to people everywhere. That said, geo-targeting can be an incredibly useful weapon in an Internet marketer’s arsenal, and the more precision offered from any provider of geo-targeting services, the better chance that marketer will have of achieving success with that campaign.

Unfortunately for users of Yahoo Search Marketing, Google still dominates the search market share by a wide margin, and to the best of my knowledge, the Google deal doesn’t include serving Yahoo ads on Google’s search engine.

Update: According to this page for holiday tips, Google actually will let you geo-target down to a neighborhood level rather than only the city-level as indicated here.

Yahoo Continues Quest for Relevancy
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  • Guest

    Well it seems that Y! has lost several batlles, such as search, ads, instant messaging, SEM and social (real social). Although they have still hope for survival in areas such as Flikr, mail, editorial (news, sports…) and Answers. Their future; if they want to survive as a proper brand, would be definitely to group their search/ads/SEM efforts with other players than Google. The market place needs a counter weight for Google and I would rather bet on an MSN/Y! (and why not others) alliance with some serious re-engineering in the weak areas and give birth to an even better product than Google is providing today. Meaning, efficiency, simplicity and ROI.

    • Chris Crum

      Mail is definitely still a strong suit for them. According to Hitwise, it is the second most popular site (just behind google.com), and way above Gmail (#11).

  • http://www.tupelobulkfoods.com Jo Hannah Afton

    I love Yahoo (as a merchant), and I can see the shadow of Google being a threat to them.  I think they need to either decide to "beat ‘em or join ‘em" ’cause Google is just way too big to ignore.  I hope they don’t do anything stupid and make advertising too expensive for the little people like me, ’cause then they’ll stand the risk of losing their own merchants!

  • http://www.myexpresswebservices.com Eric Gourmet

    I am glad Yahoo had resisted Microsoft attempt to control them and I hope their CEO will hold on this line.

    Basically, they are the only advertising company from the big 3 which is really working. I have ppc campaign with Yahoo, Google and MSN and all are complementary in some way.

    But the most effective, responsive and flexible campaigns are from Yahoo.

    I don’t mind other company improving their services, as a customer I am happy of it, provided they don’t kill the competitors.

    • Chris Crum

      Interesting that your Yahoo campaigns are most effective. Any insight as to why that might be?

  • http://llcoperatingagreement.blogspot.com/ Joe

    >>but that has not stopped them from making adjustments to their own advertising platform.<<

    What else can Yahoo do?  Yang has put them in a box.  Google swallowed the search market which it then leveraged to gobble control of the online advertising market.  Yang went wee wee on the offer from Microsoft, one of the few available counterweights out there for Yahoo to join with to oppose Google.  After spurning Microsoft, Yang embraced the elephant in the room–Google.  But DOJ cried foul for obvious reason.  Google possesses monopoly power in the online ad market.

    So Yahoo is left swinging in the wind dying a slow death.  Nice job <s>Brownie</s> Yangster!


  • Guest

    Yahoo has a long way to go I signed up for web hosting got 1/3 of my products listed. When I tried to log in again they did not send me my key. Customer service who by the way spoke worse English than a 2 year old told me I would have to wait 3-5 day’s THATS VERY POOR considering my payment was accepted 4 day’s before. Now I am told even though I never got live there is no REFUND THEY YAHOO SUCKS.

  • http://www.quickhits.co.uk Quick Hits

    Competion in any other industry is good for consumers, so why not in the "Search business" Google is by far the world’s biggest and most popular search engine on merit (through innovation and useability) Ask yourself would it have put som much resources into R&D if this was a one horse race with no competitors? So what if Google is the clear favourite, that doesn’t mean everyone should not even try. If this happens Google will become an even bigger monopoly with in the long term might not be in the best interests of advertisers and end-users. Another good post!

  • http://www.search-optimization.com/blog/ Gerry Grant

    The Internet is comprised of more than just search. Yahoo! is viewed for more time than Google. This is because of the fact that they have a better home page, My Yahoo!. They do need to work on their search results.

    They should allow for different search results for each individual: personal, business, news, research, shopping. If they allowed those to be saved then the results would become more relevant for the moment. Persona search!

  • http://www.passionoflife.net Edward

    I always believe having competition is healthy. Instead of having just one company running the whole show so having competitors will encourage improvement in technology. I am always using different search engines to find products when one does not show what I am looking for. Imagine if it is just one search engine and if I can’t find what I want, that will be the end. Now having different search engines, at least I can have additional choice to find  the product if one does not show it.


  • http://www.greymindz.com Amaan Goyal

    A lot has been said about Yahoo being out and not being able to stand the competition from Google but i strongly feel that Yahoo has been smart enough to make choices with the best options available. Google has become a dominant force to reckon with and no one denies that , Yahoo is implementing chnages it can even forging alliance with Google to strengthen its verticals. Remember the key competion mantra- learn the rules of the game first and then play by the rules better than anyone else.

  • http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS217343+23-Sep-2008+PRN20080923 Peter Monroe

    Yahoo is teaming up with Google.  I think that in the year to come, google and yahoo will partner more and more against microsoft.  When the Google operating system comes out… the domination will be complete.

  • http://www.hophunt.com Free Traffic

    When Yahoo used Go.ogle search platform, they help  Go.ogle become very popular leave them from the dust.

    Now, they will negotiate to collaborate ads with Go.ogle… That would a sign of incompetent management that will hinder the value of stockholders in the long run.

    The only company that can save Yahoo from extinction is Microsoft.

  • http://www.otimizacao-de-websites.com otimiza

    Someday Google will join (buy) Yahoo and then will crash Microsoft.
    Only if Yahoo join to Microsoft that they have chances against Google.

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