Yahoo! Testing New Branding Metrics for Search

As part of its effort to make search marketing more appealing to brand marketers and other traditional marketers, Yahoo has begun offering its larger advertiser and agency partners more advanced tools for choosing keywords.

The company has been quietly beta testing two new tools with 10 to 15 of Yahoo’s top advertisers and agencies for the past two months. Buzz Index — not to be confused with the company’s existing consumer-facing tool of the same name — is a keyword discovery tool with attached demographic data, and Search Share of Voice is a metric analogous to the traditional marketing measurement. The tools are expected to be ready to be offered to a broader base of advertisers in the coming months.

“Marketers have tended to think of search as click-to-sale. That’s beginning to change as more and more brand advertisers are beginning to recognize the power of search for things like message association and engagement,” said Jason Lehmbeck, director of strategic alliances at Yahoo Search Marketing.

Lehmbeck heads up the agency sales team at Yahoo Search Marketing, a group dedicated to providing personal service to more than 2,000 agencies who advertise in Yahoo’s paid search programs. One of his team’s primary messages to advertisers is to think of ways of using search beyond simple direct response.

“People tend to get boxed in with search, because they think of it as just a title and description,” he said. “They should be thinking of it more as a teaser to draw their audience into their marketing process. Search can be used to extend the value and reach of ideas, content, and sponsorships.”

Lehmbeck says search can be used to move metrics like number of email addresses captured, time spent on site, number of pages viewed, and offline conversions.

The tools in beta testing are designed to help marketers use and measure search in new ways. Buzz Index is a panel-based tool that tracks related keyword searches made by its volunteer members. Lehmbeck declined to quantify how many individuals made up the panel, but says it is larger than other research panels, such as Nielsen//NetRatings’ NetView panel.

To use it, marketers enter a desired keyword and see related searches made by panel members. The information can be broken down by demographic information like gender and age, as well as geographically by DMA at the state or major city level.

While other search engines have tools to help advertisers identify new keywords which may be related to their product or service, Lehmbeck said they don’t provide the same level of demographic info about the searchers. MSN has promised such detail with its adCenter product, which it launched this week in France and last month in Singapore.

Marketers can use the added demographic data to adjust their bid strategy, tailor creative to the appropriate audience segments, or to find “affinity” keywords that target the same demographic groups that are in the marketer’s target audience. Lehmbeck points out that the strategy only works if the marketer actually has relevant content to appeal to those groups.

Yahoo is currently training its advertiser partners in how to best use the Buzz Index, gathering feedback about the kinds of information and reports the advertisers are requesting, and refining features of the product before deciding when to launch it to all its advertisers.

Search share of voice, like its offline counterpart, measures the share of overall searches on a keyword or topic a particular brand has results for. Marketers can use the metric to determine how their brand ranks among competitors.

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