Mastering Yahoo’s Panama

Because my wife does that sideways glance (you know, the one that only wives can do) when she sees me reading a business book or white paper on vacation, I’m a little behind on my industry reading.

On returning to my office, then I was happy to see a copy of “Mastering Panama,” by the very lovely and very talented Mona Elesseily, Page Zero Internet marketing strategist, waiting for me. Elesseily is sidekick to PPC (define) guru and author Andrew Goodman, whose own book, “Google AdWords” has helped a huge number of marketers improve PPC performance.

A lot has been written about the Panama ranking system since its launch. But Elesseily’s book is probably the first hands-on guide to getting the best out of it. The book moves from the basics to more advanced techniques and concludes with a bonus section on tried-and-true lessons on copywriting.

Although it’s fair to say Panama is AdWords-esque in its approach, there are a number of differences. I liked the fact that, early on, Elesseily introduces action items and what she refers to as “helpful hints” for slightly more advanced users. These cover practical and tactical concerns. Using the breadcrumb navigation if you get lost in the interface and need to determine your whereabouts is a solid tip. If you’re opting out of content match at the account level, she offers advice on how to select match-typing options at the same level (advanced match and standard match).

The report is packed with screenshots of the Panama interface at various levels. These visuals are supported with descriptive commentary on functionality. This is particularly useful if you’re setting up an account for the first time. The book walks readers through Panama’s dashboard, campaign, reports, and administration tabs, as well as various subtabs.

For intermediate and advanced users more interested in power features, Elesseily highlights three all-important areas:

  • Geotargeting
  • Campaign forecasting
  • The new ranking algorithm
  • These Panama features potentially allow you to improve targeting and increase ROI (define) while limiting needless testing costs, according to Elesseily.

    With Panama’s launch, Yahoo Search Marketing introduced a new method for geographic targeting. Again, Elesseily walks readers through the process of setting up a tightly targeted campaign. Yahoo now offers IP targeting within a sponsored search account, and advertisers can choose by entire market (such as the U.K.) or specific regions within a market. Within the specific regions option, there are two types of targeting:

  • State/province/territory within a market.
  • City and surrounding area (CSA). This is the new equivalent to designated market area (DMA).
  • This section, complete with screenshots of maps of certain territories and lists of geographical areas, is an excellent tutorial on local search advertising.

    In the same way, the section on keyword-generation strategy is full of little gems. “Lazy advertisers get lower ROI, it’s as simple as that. But don’t think it’s all about generating a mammoth keyword list,” Elesseily states. Building out a keyword list using ingenuity and persistence based on a sound campaign and theme structure is the sage advice given here.

    We hear a lot about long-tail searches in the SEM (define) industry. The report has a very realistic overview, complete with examples, of tapping into long-tail search, explaining why not to overdo it. It also covers the conversion punch in the power of brand, product, and company name accounts. Landing pages also get attention in this section, which is complemented by an appendix detailing a landing page’s anatomy.

    Having set up a campaign with as much ingenuity as one can muster, one must test and analyze the campaign’s results. The chapter on reporting and advanced analytics is another step-by-step how-to on tracking and performance reporting.

    Once again, Panama introduces some key developments in reporting, compared to the old system. Elesseily takes an in-depth look at keyword and URL performance reports. This section takes a “tracking made simple” approach, but it also points out that if you’re going to use the full analytics installation with its various page tags, you may want to get some support from Yahoo Search Marketing because it can be a tricky operation.

    With pointers on service tiers and customer service, as well as information on other Yahoo Search Marketing products (such as content match), this book is a very useful tool. I was impressed with the concise, hands-on approach.

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