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September 09, 2005

New ad category targeting added to YPN

Yahoo Publisher Network has added a brand new ad category targeting feature for publishers, which should help create tighter ad targeting.

In addition to the contextually-matched ads that Yahoo! serves, Ad Targeting enables you to target your visitors with ads based on their specific interests. You can choose up to two ad categories to apply to your web site (e.g., http://pets.yahoo.com), a specific directory of your web site (e.g., http://pets.yahoo.com/dogs/) or a content-specific web page on your site (e.g., http://pets.yahoo.com/dogs/toys.html). Your ad category selections, in combination with our matching technology, will determine what types of ads will be displayed. Selecting ad categories for a Targeted URL, however, does not guarantee that only ads from those ad categories will appear.

Here is a screenshot (click the screenshot to view full-sized version of the page):

adtarget1.gif

They have quite a number of categories and sub-categories, much more detailed than I expected, a total of 20 categories and 134 sub-categories. For those who are still eagerly awaiting a YPN beta account, here they are:

A great variety of categories are included, as you can see. Although some do strike me as a little on the odd side, such as the inclusion of tattoos/piercings and botanical gardens. And some seem to overlap, such as telecommunications selections. Publishers can select up to two categories per URL (can be targeted on a site, directory or page level), which would make the overlap workable for publishers with sites or pages in those areas.

YPN has really jumped on this option, and it seems much more in depth since I heard Will Johnson talk about it at Search Engine Strategies San Jose last month.

Active publishers will also see the option to "suggest additional ad categories and subcategories" to the YPN Support Team when viewing the Ad Targeting tab in the control panel.

This also gives YPN a leg up on Google AdSense. While they have a similar option, it is not something given to all publishers by default, but rather to those publishers suffering from chronic targeting problems.

I am curious to know what ads will be targeted under the "mass markets" category. Will this include things such as eBay and Shopping.com types of ads? These are generic ads, such as "Buy ____ on eBay" that many publishers have been blocking because of low relevance and many incidents of things like "Buy Used Dogs on eBay" which AdSense publishers are familiar with.

Using targeted categories also opens up an interesting possibility, since it is available to all YPN publishers. Since publishers can select specific categories for pages and sites, this could also give the option for advertisers to target those pages using those categories, allowing for a wider audience for their ads. An advertiser could potentially select to run their ads - either on a CPC basis as usual, or as a CPM basis, similar to how the Google AdSense CPM ads work - on a specific category such as "Cruises" or "Office Electronics".

Do keep in mind that category selections won't automatically change the ads, particularly if you are choosing financial categories on a page about a particular dog breed, for example.

Ad categories serve as suggestions and will be used in combination with other technologies to determine which ads will be displayed on your web site. Selecting ad categories for a web page does not guarantee that only ads from those categories will appear.

To start using Ad Targeting:

It is a great bonus that publishers do not need to make any changes to the javascript to implement Ad Targeting, unlike similar category/keyword targeting with AdSense that require a line being added to the javascript on those pages. However, publishers are limited to a maximum number of 50 Targeted URLs.

Once implemented, it will take approx 4-6 hours to see the category targeting take effect.

You can read more specifics about Ad Targeting on the Yahoo Publisher FAQ page.

Kudos to YPN for releasing this much-sought-after feature. It will be interesting to watch and see if this improves ad relevancy, something that has been an issue with YPN so far. This, combined with the new ad unit makeovers, could be what is needed to give a boost to publisher CTRs. My testing comparing the two could have a new winner at the end of the month ;)

Posted by Jenstar at September 9, 2005 02:07 PM

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Comments

Cool! I just wanna know when YPN will be officially launched! Any clue yet? Thanks for any insights...

Posted by: James Moore at September 10, 2005 03:19 PM

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