New Panama Ranking System For Yahoo Ads Launches Today

Mona Elesseily on
  • Categories: Channel: SEM, Yahoo: Search Ads
  • Today, Yahoo will flip the switch for the new "Marketplace Design" algorithm
    in the US market, the system commonly known as Panama. Parts of Panama have
    already gone live in the past few weeks. But throughout today, Yahoo will be
    rolling out the last piece — a new ranking algorithm and its associated new
    pricing mechanism.

    With the new ranking algorithm, Yahoo will move from its long-standing and
    original bid-to-position model (where those who pay the most rank first) to a
    system that takes bids, ad quality and other factors into consideration in
    determining how ads are ranked on search results pages (a system similar to that
    long used by Google).

    Yahoo’s motivation is to provide more relevant search results and a better
    overall experience for users, as well as increase monetization — to earn more
    from the ads its shows. In a recent Yahoo Search Marketing newsletter, Tim
    Cadogan, vice president, search marketing, said:

    We firmly believe that delivering more relevant ads to users will result in
    more quality leads to advertisers, invite even more participation in our
    network and ultimately create a more valuable marketplace for users,
    advertisers, publishers and Yahoo.

    Cadogan’s also featured in a New York Times

    today looking at the business issues of the Panama rollout for
    Yahoo. But for Search Engine Land, how does it impact advertisers? In the new algorithm, ad quality scores are crucial. Those with better
    quality are more likely to rank better (and perhaps pay less) than other ads. So
    how is ad quality measured, and how can you do better in the new system? Some
    tips, below.

    Historical Clickthrough Rates

    Historical clickthrough rates (CTRs) are one part of how ad quality scores
    are determined. To get this information, Yahoo will pull data (relative to other
    ads displayed at the same time) from both the old system and the new Panama
    system. The new ranking algorithm emphasizes data "freshness" and will use the
    most current information available.

    For example, a high volume term may require ten days of historical data while
    a lower volume term may pull thirty days of data to determine historical CTR.
    The rolling window will ensure historical CTRs are calculated on current market

    Expected Clickthrough Rates

    Expected CTRs are also used to determine ad quality scores. This is largely
    machine-based learning and expected CTR is determined by various relevance
    factors relative to other ads displayed at the same time. Some of the major
    relevance factors considered in the new algorithm are:

    • Bids
    • CTRs
    • Ad copy (titles & descriptions)
    • URLs
    • Landing pages
    • Advertiser information
    • Advertiser industry segment

    Yahoo is obviously not fully disclosing their secret algorithmic sauce. When
    asked, Yahoo would not provide details on what "advertiser information" and
    "advertiser industry segment" meant in terms of the CTR calculation.

    It’s worth noting, as many algorithms work together to determine ad quality,
    every advertiser and every keyword will have a unique quality score and all
    relevance factors may not hit every keyword term or phrase.

    At first, landing pages will be lightly weighted in the quality index
    calculation. Yahoo doesn’t want to throw too many curveballs at advertisers as
    they adapt to the new ranking formula, so landing page relevancy won’t be a big
    part of the formula for now. In the future, they expect this will have a bigger
    impact on quality index and will notify advertisers before implementing the

    Graphical Display Of Quality Index

    Advertisers who’ve migrated to the new system will be able to see overall the
    quality index displayed in a graphical format. Yahoo will use a five bar system
    to represent the quality index. Five bars will be the highest quality index
    score. Here’s an example:

    The quality index will be calculated at the keyword level, but the data will
    be aggregated and displayed at the ad group level. Yahoo claims this will make
    it easier for advertisers to visualize the quality index. The quality index will
    not be available at the keyword level.

    Migration & Ranking Tips From Yahoo

    Yahoo has recommended that advertisers take the following actions to prepare
    accounts for the new ranking algorithm. They are:

    1. Include keywords in your ad (use the Insert Keyword feature)
    2. Carefully determine keywords for your ad group
    3. Use ad testing to learn which messages are performing best for you.
    4. Use the Excluded Keyword feature to help optimize your Advanced match type
    5. Review your current bids and set a campaign budget to meet your business

    For more tips from Yahoo, see
    about the migration.

    Additional Points On Panama Ranking Algorithm

    1. Standard match type, ads will no longer receive priority placement over
      advanced match type ads
    2. For certain terms, fewer sponsored search results may appear at the top of
      the page
    3. Marketplace Design will roll out on both the new Panama and old systems

    Good luck everyone with the migration, and feel free to add your own tips and
    experiences in the comments below!

    Mona Elesseily is a contributing
    writer for Search Engine Land and 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

    About The Author

    Mona Elesseily
    Mona Elesseily writes extensively and speaks internationally on search & online marketing. 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).