Two weeks ago I wrote about the most important settings to check when starting up an AdWords account. This week I’ll be detailing some of the ins and outs of the Yahoo! Search Marketing interface (YSM or Panama). I should reiterate that this list isn’t intended to be the end-all-be-all for navigating your YSM account, but an informational resource when setting up an account or even trouble shooting performance issues. So without further a-do, here are the top 5 settings to check in YSM.

  1. Account Daily Spending Limit: Unlike AdWords or MSN adCenter, Yahoo! allows for a maximum spending limit for the entire account. This is a feature that can be both a blessing and a curse. For advertisers who are on a tight budget, this is a simple way to control spending on a day by day basis. However, if you set this limit too low you’ll set yourself up to lose advertising exposure. Chances are you’ll spend all of your money before the day has ended and miss out on the possibility of more clicks and conversions.

    Yahoo! demands that you set an account spending limit, so you will want to think this process out before entering a dollar amount. Consider how many campaigns you have and what those campaign budgets are set at (if at all). Consider your overall advertising budget and how much of that is allotted for YSM.

    Once you have run your account for a while and begin to see trends in your data, you will want to target campaigns that are over-spending when compared to other campaigns within your account. When a daily spending limit is set, it’s literally a race to the finish for all of the campaigns in your account. Inevitably, one campaign will be the victor and the rest will have under spent and underperformed. Be conscious of campaign performance and adjust at that level to ensure that your entire account has a chance to optimally perform within your budgetary constraints.

  2. Campaign Geo-Targeting:Of the many differences between the various PPC platforms, geo-targeting seems to be the area with the most variation. The most important thing to note here is that Yahoo! has a different YSM program running in each of its search markets around the world. So, when Yahoo! asks if you want to target the Entire Market or Specific Regions, you’re only looking to target within the United States and Canada.

    Yahoo! utilizes the Nielson Media Research, Inc.’s Designated Market Area (DMA) mapping system for targeting locations within the US and Canada. This makes geo targeting selections easier when you need to tap into an entire market area versus a specific city.

    This is a bit of a tangent, but it falls in line with the broader reach of geo-targeting: it is important to note that Yahoo! has admitted that despite the separation of their search markets, some of your click traffic could potentially come from one of their other markets. Because of this, you can choose to Block Continents.From the Administration section, you can choose to block click traffic from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America.

  3. Tactic Settings – Content:Yahoo!’s content network is a very different beast from that of Google’s or even that of old YSM interface. What everyone needs to realize is that content controls are found in every management tier: account level, campaign level and ad group level. This means that in order for the content network to be running in “ad group X” you need to ensure that it is set to “ON” at all three levels in order for it to run! This has tripped me up on more than one occasion.

    The content bids are only set at the ad group level. While I’m thankful that these aren’t spread out over three tiers too, it is disheartening (and frustrating) that content bids cannot be separated out at the keyword level. This minor detail makes it extremely important to set up your account structure in such a way that you can appropriately adjust your content bid for all of your ad group’s keywords.

  4. Tactic Settings – Match Type:Standard Match or Advanced Match, that is the question. With the YSM match type dichotomy, it makes it pretty simple to choose your weapon. Standard of course is the “exact match.” Although Yahoo! does include misspellings and plural/singular versions in Standard Match. Advanced then is the “broad match” that will catch all of the variations and query strings that Yahoo! deems relevant to your keywords.

    The important thing to note here (and why this item made it on my list) is that Advanced Match is the default within YSM. If you have a very refined keyword list and are looking for qualified traffic, you will probably be looking to start with Standard Match. The match types can be easily changed at the account, campaign and ad group level.

  5. Optimize Ad Display:In the not so distant past, I moaned and groaned about Yahoo!’s Optimize Ad Display functionality. As not to beleaguer the point, I won’t go into gross detail. Suffice it to say that this is a tricky little tool. Yahoo! defaults to have all of your ads optimized by your click-through-rates. In the spirit of proper split testing, it is more effective to have the ads rotated evenly for equal impression exposure.

    Optimize Ad Display can be turned on/off at the ad group level. Be cautious of this function. I have found (and other’s have found) that once turned “OFF,” Optimize Ad Display can occasionally find its way back to being “ON.” As a general rule, I check my ad groups frequently to ensure that it has remained “OFF.”

Since Yahoo!’s facelift with the introduction of the new Panama interface, there has been a lot to learn and adjust to. Most people (if search marketing bloggers are people that is!) feel that Yahoo!’s upgrade has been a plus. Some of the issues surrounding the migration process were a headache. But the usability of the interface, increased account performance for some, and an ever evolving advertising platform have all but made up for that.

Does anyone else have a particular setting or function in Yahoo! Search Marketing that you feel is crucial when starting a campaign (or checking in on one)? Let me know what you think, or if I missed anything!