On Feb. 19, 2014, Yahoo unveiled Yahoo Gemini, a new platform for managing mobile and tablet traffic exclusively for Yahoo properties. The platform consolidates two unique ad formats: (1) Mobile/Tablet Search & (2) Native Ads.
Mobile/Tablet Search Ads:
This ad format is text-based and appears alongside relevant search results. It is most commonly delivered after a user searches for keywords on search engines. Like desktop targeted campaigns, match types can still be applied to keywords to help control ad delivery, however Yahoo mentioned that certain match types such as phrase match are unavailable for the short term.
This ad format is designed to resemble the organic content surrounding it, seamlessly blending with the overall content experience with text or image-based ad units. Native ads serve across all devices (desktop, mobile, and tablet), and targeted by audience. The ability to target users by interests is also in development, though not yet available.
Yahoo Gemini campaigns will be managed through Yahoo Ad Manager, which is Yahoo’s self-serve ad platform for reaching mobile and tablet audiences on the Yahoo network. In addition to the two ad formats, there are plans to implement new formats such as mobile app install ads, HD image ads, digital magazine ads, and native ads on the recently acquired Tumblr blog network.
Yahoo is forecasting explosive growth for both the mobile market and for native advertising in the near future, and is eager to capitalize on this opportunity.
According to Yahoo, 95% of digital advertisers already buy mobile ads, and the amount of investment in the channel is increasing each year. Yahoo also stated that in the next four years, some analysts are projecting $1 out of every $4 in marketing budget will be devoted to mobile traffic.
Yahoo is similarly optimistic about native ads, and CEO Marissa Meyer recently cited native advertising & contextual search as a core area for future growth.
How This Announcement Impacts Advertisers
Impact on Campaign Structures
Up to this point, all Yahoo and Bing search traffic has been centrally managed within one platform due to the Yahoo/Bing Search Alliance in Q4 2010. Going forward, Yahoo mobile traffic will begin to shift from Microsoft AdCenter to Yahoo’s Ad Manager platform. Yahoo has not specified the exact amount of mobile traffic that has transitioned over just yet or what the full timing of the transition is, but noted that it will be a phased approach. So, if advertisers wish to target mobile and tablet users on Yahoo properties, they must begin to manage their campaigns directly within Yahoo Ad Manager.
Unlike mobile traffic, reaching desktop audiences on Yahoo sites will still require Bing Ads. So, while advertisers can now split target Yahoo and Bing mobile traffic separately, they also now have to optimize across two different platforms to target all Yahoo traffic, duplicating current campaign structures.
Migrating Existing Structures
Yahoo says that bulk uploading is currently the best practice for migrating existing campaigns to Ad Manager. Additionally, there is integration set up for the short term with Bing Ads, allowing for campaign structures to be exported from Bing Ads to Yahoo Ad Manager; however, this integration will eventually be disabled. Finally, advertisers should be aware that integration with ad management platforms (such as Kenshoo) is not yet complete; therefore, tracking post-click performance may not be feasible for some advertisers in the short term. Yahoo has confirmed that development is in progress with all major API partners, though a completion date is not yet known.
Advertisers should begin transition to Yahoo Ad Manager immediately if they have a tracking workaround or are not tracking on-site conversions. The platform is open to all advertisers who are interested in migrating. Since Yahoo is taking a phased approach, only a very small amount of traffic runs through Yahoo Gemini at present, however this will increase over time.
Resolution Media POV:
Implications on Yahoo/Bing Partnership
The decision to segment mobile traffic out from Bing Ads may have wider implications for the Search Alliance partnership. There have been industry articles in the past speculating about Yahoo’s dissatisfaction with the Alliance, and some are already viewing Yahoo Gemini’s announcement as the first step toward separation. The 10 year contract between Yahoo & Bing allows for certain opt-out periods for either party if revenue goals are not being met. The next opt-out period is March 2015, which may be the time to look for an announcement (if any). That said, Yahoo has been very vocal about mobile being essential to their future, so it is possible they’ll keep serving desktop users through Bing Ads if they see no long-term advantage in migration.
Emergence of Native Advertising
Advertisers should consider how native ads will potentially change the current SEM landscape. Yahoo began testing native ads as “stream ads” on desktop devices back in April ’13, embedding the format in the Yahoo homepage content stream. Yahoo intends to blur the line between organic and paid results, integrating relevant advertising alongside Yahoo content streams.
- Advertisers that wish to continue targeting mobile & tablet search on Yahoo sites will need to eventually migrate campaign structures to Yahoo Ad Manager. Resolution recommends beginning to transition campaigns over immediately but with small investment levels, since (1) traffic is being phased over from AdCenter and (2) API integrations with top campaign management platforms are still in the works.
- Native ads are a unique image-based ad format with exciting placement and targeting options designed to resemble the content surrounding it. These ads will only be served from the Yahoo Ad Manager platform.
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