Key Differences Between Yahoo Search Marketing & Google AdWords

You’re probably tired of reading about cultural differences between the two search marketing leaders, Google and Yahoo. Does Semel have better hair than Sergey? Does Yahoo really hire people based on softball prowess? If you’re actually using the search marketing platforms, or for that matter, interacting with Googlers or Yahoos to accomplish a marketing-related task, none of this matters. Let’s run down some of the most impactful real-world differences between the two search marketing platforms, in the wake of Yahoo’s Panama rollout and some recent Google AdWords updates.

The user interface

In both Google and Yahoo!, advertisers can see overall campaign information like CTRs, clicks, average CPC and overall costs. In Yahoo!’s dashboard tab (the default campaign information screen), advertisers see a graphical display of the last two weeks of account activity. The dashboard also alerts advertisers of various account events like payment notifications, editorial review information, bulk upload information and incomplete campaign notification to name a few.

Google has recently introduced an “account snapshot” screen (see screenshot below) that is similar to Yahoo!’s dashboard screen (Google’s snapshot is currently in beta and does not appear in all accounts). The snapshot also has an alerts section that notifies advertisers of billing events, disapproved ads and maintenance events (like campaigns ending) and has an announcement section for new Google products and services. In the graphical display, it has tabs that can be clicked for cost, click, impressions and CTR information (in Yahoo! advertisers select from a drop down menu). Advertisers will certainly benefit from the UI competition between two search engines.


It’s worth noting, in Yahoo, the default date range is a two week period. Other date ranges will hold intrasession but once a session is completed, the system will revert to the two week default period. In Google, if a different date range is selected, it will hold through to future sessions.

Usability issues

Google’s interface tends to be easier to navigate than Yahoo’s. Yahoo’s interface requires more clicking and can take more time to complete account related tasks. For example, in Yahoo, advertisers cannot set unique bids for multiple ad groups on one screen. Advertisers need to go to each ad group to make bid changes. Also, Y!SM pages can also take slightly longer to load. This can take up some time if you’re changing pages frequently.

Editorial review

Both engines, have manual and automatic review processes. Most terms go through a manual review process but some terms are automatically reviewed. In Yahoo!, whether ads are manually reviewed depends on two factors: 1) search volume & 2) term sensitivity. So, low volume and not so sensitive terms (for example snow glove) are usually automatically reviewed. On the other hand, high volume and high impact terms (for example trademarked terms, pharmaceuticals, etc…) are usually manually reviewed.

One apparent difference is that on Google, ads go up on until they’re manually reviewed and then they’re placed on the entire Google network. On Yahoo!, ads go up on the entire network and then are manually reviewed.

Trademark issues

In Google, in the US, advertisers can bid on trademarked keywords, but can’t use trademarked terms in ad text (in Europe, advertisers can’t bid on terms or include trademark terms in ad copy). In Yahoo!, regardless of trademark, advertisers can’t bid on other companies’ (in other words competitors’) URLs or company names. In Yahoo, there are exceptions for resellers (affiliates) and non-competitive information sites. The Y!SM rules are as follows:

1) For resellers: the advertiser must sell or facilitate the sale of trademarked product or service. So, if you’re a Nike reseller, you can’t bid on Reebok terms.

2) For information sites: the advertiser must provide A) substantial information about the trademark owner or its products and services, and B) can’t sell or promote competitors’ products or services. (i.e. consumer reports).

As a general rule, it’s up to the advertiser to ensure the keywords selected do not violate any trademark laws. Trademark owners should contact the appropriate search engine if they have concerns regarding ads appearing for their trademark(s).

Customer service

At both companies, calls are routed to different service reps at different service tiers. Generally; the service received depends on how much advertisers are spending with the search engines. Obviously, the more money spent, the more service accorded to the advertiser account.

It’s worth noting the service you get sometimes depends not on the service tier but with the actual person you’re dealing with. Keep in mind; sometimes it’s in service reps interests to be helpful. At some search engines, promotions are based on how well reps work with customers.

Here are a couple of customer service suggestions:

1) Informal alliances are beneficial so make an attempt to find good people to work with. If you call a search engine frequently, ask if you can talk to whomever about your questions and concerns every time you call. If you’re pleasant and make it easy for service reps to help, the answer more often than not is yes. In many cases, we’ve established informal relationships with the search engine simply because we’ve found good people to work with.

2) If you’re not getting the service you want, call again and talk to someone else.

In the next article, I’ll address the different matching options in Google & Yahoo!. Not only do the features have different names but the technologies and algorithms behind them function completely differently. Stay tuned.

Mona Elesseily is an internet marketing strategist at Page Zero Media, focusing on paid search campaigns and conversion improvement. She’s also author of Page Zero’s Unauthorized Yahoo! Search Marketing Handbook. She is currently working on the Panama version of the Y!SM Handbook (forthcoming May 2007). The Paid Search column appears Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: was recently voted the 2013 Most influential SEM. She is the Vice President of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on search engine marketing strategy, landing page optimization (LPO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

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  • f-lops-y

    ‘In Google, in the US, advertisers can bid on trademarked keywords, but can’t use trademarked terms in ad text (in Europe, advertisers can’t bid on terms or include trademark terms in ad copy). ‘…

    Does that mean that if you are a Nike reseller in the US and create a global adwords campaign to include Europe, and bid on the term Reebok, that your ad will appear in the US results but not in the European results – or does it apply only to adword accounts created in Europe?

    Great article by the way.

  • Gordon Choi

    With YSM, not being able to bulk update CPC on the adgroup level is really preventing advertisers in the expansion of their campaigns on Panama.


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