The Microsoft-Yahoo Alliance – 3 Things I’ll Miss

The search marketing world was buzzing last week over the Microsoft-Yahoo Alliance and what it means to PPC advertisers. Marketers lauded the Alliance, celebrating the impending demise of the aging Yahoo Panama user interface. My friends David Szetela and Joe Kershbaum discussed the Alliance during the latest episode of PPC Rockstars. (Side note: If you’re a PPC advertiser or account manager, and you’re not already subscribed to the PPC Rockstars podcast, do yourself a favor and go subscribe right now. You’ll thank me later.)

Overall, I agree with the sentiment out there – Yahoo Panama is clunky, and outdated, and was flawed from the start. That said, there are 3 things I’ll miss when the Alliance finally rolls out.

#1 – Lack of competition on MSN/Bing. It’s well-known that conversion rates on Bing are far superior to conversion rates on Yahoo. In my experience, if Google’s conversion rate is X, Bing converts at 3X and Yahoo converts at 0.6X. One of the reasons Bing converts better is the lack of competition.

The Alliance puts advertiser ads on the best PPC engine AND the worst one. We don’t yet know whether advertisers will have the option of creating separate campaigns for Yahoo and Bing. If that’s not an option, we’re all going to see lower conversion rates.

Even if this is an option, I’m betting more people will opt in to Bing when they can do so through one interface (as opposed to two currently). That’ll increase competition, thereby splitting the conversion pie into fewer pieces – resulting in lower conversion rates.

#2 – The quality of Bing traffic. While this is related to competition, it’s not exactly the same. PPC traffic comes not only from the search engine domain (e.g. or, but from search and content partners as well. Partners almost always dilute the quality of traffic from a PPC engine – especially in Yahoo’s case, where poor performance from search partners is well-documented. We don’t know whether Bing will add search partners to the mix; but if they do, we’re in trouble.

#3 – Yahoo’s Bid Slider application. OK, so it’s a minor feature in the overall scheme of things. But I use that slider a lot when managing client PPC bids. It’s a great visual that helps advertisers estimate ad position and bid quickly and easily. It beats Google’s Bid Simulator by a mile, even though the Bid Simulator is 2.5 years newer. It’s one of the few things Yahoo got right with Panama.

Under the Alliance, PPC management will happen in the adCenter interface, and Yahoo’s Panama will go away. For the most part, I’m glad, but I’ll miss that slider.

What will you miss when YSM goes away?

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It’s Here: “Mastering Panama” Handbook

Mona Elesseily of Page Zero Media has published a must-read handbook on Yahoo Search Marketing’s Panama system, “Mastering Panama: A Special Report on Yahoo!’s New Search Marketing Platform.”

I ordered my copy yesterday, so I haven’t read it yet – but knowing Mona and the Page Zero team, it’s bound to be great. Mona is one of the top authorities on Panama and YSM in general. And she and Andrew Goodman haven’t let me down yet. I first bought Andrew’s Google Adwords e-book back in 2002 when we started with Adwords, and my copy of “Winning Results” is dog-eared and well-used. These two know their stuff, and their publications should be part of every good SEM’s library.

If I wasn’t already excited about Mona’s book, the closing paragraph on the Page Zero website clinches it:

“Cue the Van Halen guitar riffs. Get ready to rock your Y!SM campaigns this fall.”

Oh. Yeah.

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Yahoo Search Marketing Bulk Uploads In 10 Easy Steps

Managing a large PPC account can be, and often is, a full-time job. With thousands of ads, keywords, and creatives, simply updating product offerings can take hours each week. Add to that the constantly changing landscape of PPC and you’re looking at real headache potential.

Luckily, all the major engines have tools to help ease the pain. One such tool is the bulk upload spreadsheet, which is the fastest way to make mass changes to a PPC account. Instead of having to navigate the user interface on the Web, you can create and edit ad groups in Excel, using all its function tools, and then just upload the finished product to the engine.

Bulk upload spreadsheets have been around since Yahoo Search Marketing was still Overture. In fact, Overture had a bulk upload feature before Google did, and it was a great tool. I used it regularly to add and change PPC listings.

Then, along came Yahoo’s Panama, with a new interface and a new spreadsheet. Yahoo conducted several webinars about Panama, including one on the bulk upload sheet (on this page, titled “Importing Campaigns Overview.”).

Great idea, right? I thought so, and I was eager to see the new tool in action. Well….. I consider myself a power Excel user – I use Excel more than any other Microsoft Office program, and I’m pretty good at it. Yet, I was lost about 5 minutes into the bulk upload webinar. It was so frustrating, I just gave up and started making changes manually – a very time-consuming process. Others agreed that the bulk upload tool was just too hard to figure out.

Well, I finally got tired of all the typing, and decided to buckle down and learn how to use the bulk upload. I’m glad I did, especially in view of the fact that Yahoo now requires short descriptions on all their ads.

I started with Yahoo’s instructions for importing campaigns, but they’re somewhat daunting. Here are 10 easy steps to a successful Yahoo bulk upload:

1. If possible, edit only one campaign at a time. Don’t download your entire account – you’ll have to do a lot of filtering in Excel, and that means lots of error potential.
2. To download a campaign, from within the campaign you want to edit, just click the link that says “download campaign.”
3. Open the file and save it to your hard drive as an Excel (xls) file. You’ll need to change this format later, but you’ll want full use of all of Excel’s features while editing.
4. Make your changes – adding short descriptions, turning Content on or off, editing copy, etc. One of the best uses of the bulk upload sheet is for adding keyword-level URLs. This is painful in the interface, but simple via bulk upload using the Copy and Concatenate functions.
5. To delete a keyword or ad group, just delete those rows from the spreadsheet.
6. To add keywords or ad groups, add them to the spreadsheet. You’ll need to be careful and follow the Ad GroupAdKeyword convention, though – use an existing ad group as a template. Just make sure to leave the Ad ID, Keyword ID, Checksum, and Error Message columns blank!
7. Once you’ve made all your changes, you’ll need to save the file as Unicode Text. But, make sure to give it a .csv extension! Excel wants to save Unicode Text files as .txt, but that’ll cause errors when you try to upload the file.
8. Go back into the YSM interface, to the Campaigns tab, and click Import. Then just follow the instructions from there to upload your file.
9. It only takes a few seconds to upload, and the interface will tell you if there are errors. If you got errors, go back to the Help section and see if you can figure them out!
10. Don’t forget to check the Editorial Status section to see if any of your changes are waiting there. Usually they’ll go through in a day or so, but it’s good to know what’s pending there, just in case.

That’s it! It’s really not that hard once you do it a few times. I’ve started using this function for almost all my ad edits lately.

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