Yahoo Panama (the pay-per-click platform) has recently released some updates to their system. Some of the changes include day time parting, demographic bidding and a “new” and updated content network. If you’ve been using AdWords then you know these features are not exactly revolutionary.

On the surface this may seem great. Yahoo Panama has been in need of updates, but this update hasn’t done much for Yahoo advertisers and the major problems that plague their paid search marketing platform still exist.

Outdated & Useless User Interface Features:

useless Yahoo PPC features
Ever create an ad in Yahoo and asked yourself why they give you the option for a “short description” and “long description”? Have you ever filled the long description out?

Well… the long description actually serves no purpose. It is not used, yet it remains in the interface confusing advertisers. I had a client that used to fill these out. The client didn’t realize this and spent hours wasting his time filling out long descriptions that have absolutely zero purpose.

How about the ad naming? What is the purpose of naming all your ads? There is no purpose and after creating 100’s of ads you start to mash buttons just so you can get past this useless field.

There is a bunch of other smaller interface quirks that could turn this post into a 5 page essay but if Yahoo could get at least the above right I would be ecstatic.

Bad Billing System:

Yahoo panama is by default set to charge your credit card when your funds get low. The only way to get out of this automated system is by contacting yahoo to switch you over to a prepay.

Why not give the advertiser the choice of prepay billing or postpay billing like Google does? Most advertisers aren’t aware of the alternative payment options and no one likes to go through customer service to get this done. Yahoo needs to be transparent and put prepay in the interface.

If you do switch over to prepay then you will quickly find out that you can’t just put in $10-$20 minimums like you can in AdWords. Nope—instead yahoo will take a 3 day average of your spend and request you put in a minimum amount to cover the next 3 days. So if you spend $50 a day then the minimum yahoo will request is $150.

This may seem like a no biggie, especially since you’re going to spend that money anyway but when you’re in the initial stages of testing traffic then your going to have a day where you may spend $100, another when you may spend $200 and another when you spend $300, at the end of it all you may pause half your adgroups and find that your only going to be spending $50 a day—well, the minimum amount you will be requested to put in is $200 and now imagine you have a limited credit limit and can only afford to put in small chunks of cash per day. The billing system is flawed and greedy—let advertisers decide what they want to put in and don’t force them to pay for days in advance!

Still No Editor Tool:

Editing large campaigns with hundreds of keywords and adgroups is a nightmare in Yahoo. This is compounded by the (inexcusable) fact that Yahoo still has no editor. Even MSN adcenter has an editor now. It boggles my mind that Yahoo can sit there and release day time parting features with demographic bidding yet not even have a beta editor tool.

An editor would encourage people to build larger campaigns and spend a lot more money. It would also encourage many users who are exclusive to Google to come over to Yahoo. No one likes sitting spending hours editing ads, managing keywords when that time can be spent in a better platform WITH an editor. If you have to choose where your time would be spent best then this one would be a no brainer.

This one is simple Yahoo: Open Adwords Editor, look at it, put a yahoo logo on it and release it!

Content Network:

For the longest time I couldn’t even get 1 impression on the content network. When talking to reps they would tell me there are issues and problems with the content network so I ended up giving up on it all together. Recently Yahoo released its “updated” content network so I decided to give it a try. To my surprise I got impressions—a lot. I had about 50 ad groups and all of them had content network enabled. Each was only averaging 1–3 clicks at a fairly low bid which seemed reasonable given the low bid.

Then, out of nowhere, one of my adgroups got over 2000 clicks in a matter of a few hours, at about a 3 cent average per click. I thought I hit a gold mine for cheap traffic. Well, it turns out that all of the traffic that came in bounced. None of the 2000+ visits actually clicked on anything on the page and of course none of these “visitors” converted—this is on a campaign that at its lowest averages about 1% conversion rate.

2000 clicks in a few hours, and all of them bounced. Something smells fishy.

I paused the traffic and contacted support. Yahoo assured me the traffic was legit and relevant, but they refused to tell me where the traffic was coming from, or refund me any money, despite proving my case by showing them the bounce rates. To be honest I could care less about the few bucks I spent testing the content network but the greedy nature of Yahoo has really taken them down a notch.

This is a company that is currently giving away $50 free credits to anyone who signs up and advertises (a sign of desperation) yet they wont refund for mass amounts of obviously low quality (and potentially even fraudulent) traffic—nor even provide assurance that their traffic sources are relevant. One thing is for sure: test your content network traffic before putting meaningful cash into it.

Yahoo has the potential to be a great advertising platform but they continue to shoot themselves in the foot, while the competition continues to improve. If Yahoo takes care of some of the basics they can regain some footing. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use Yahoo, they are still a great source of traffic (minus the content network) and the conversions on Yahoo (again, minus the content network) are usually very good but be prepared to deal with some of the issues I have outlined above.