Yahoo Now Filters Ads in Search Results Too

Last month, Yahoo debuted its new search results pages, which among other things allow a user to filter organic search results by site. Today, Yahoo added the ability for a publisher’s ads to be filtered as well.

It’s being touted as a benefit to users, but not all advertisers will be happy about the move.

Beginning today, if a user elects to filter results by a site, and that site is also an advertiser on a relevant keyword, the user will see both organic search results from that site, and ads from that site — without competitors’ ads, Jeff Hecox, client communications manager, writes in a blog post to the Yahoo Search Marketing blog.

For example, if a user is searching for “U2 concert” on Yahoo, the results include several sponsored search ads along the right-hand side of the page. But if the user opts to filter the search results to only those from StubHub.com, for example, most of the ads will disappear, with the only ads remaining those that were bought by StubHub.

According to Hecox, the domains Yahoo uses to filter results are chosen “based on a number of factors, such as their listings’ quality, popularity and user response.”

“All advertisers will still get the same chances at clicks before any filtering takes place. But those advertisers whose sites show up as a filtering option will get further opportunities for clicks when their ad shows up in the narrowed results — without any competing ads. And the ads may be more relevant to consumers, as our systems take the user’s choice into account,” writes Hecox.

That kind of exclusivity could rile some advertisers, who are not privileged to be among the sites included in Yahoo’s filtered content lists.

“I think it limits competition and gives a huge preference to big-name brands like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Buy.com, and the like.” Melissa Mackey, online marketing manager at Fluency Media, told ClickZ. As an agency representing smaller clients, Mackey said she has often been able to “level the playing field” and compete with bigger advertisers through savvy use of PPC ads. “This effectively cuts off the lesser-known advertisers who may have a great product and offer, but lack the household name,” she said.

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