What Yahoo Behavioral Targeting Means for Your Search Marketing
In February, Yahoo launched Search Retargeting, a behavioral targeting program that serves ads across the Yahoo Publisher Network based on a Yahoo user’s prior Yahoo searches.
“For example,” the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog explains, “if a user searches for the keyword ‘sandals,’ indicating strong purchase intent, an advertiser can target that user with a tailored display ad for footwear.”
What does Search Retargeting mean for you, as a search marketer? I explore some of the implications here.
Search Retargeting uses the strength of the search and display channels in tandem to reduce the inefficiencies of each. Users typically ignore display ads (which tend to see abysmal clickthrough rates, often hovering well below 5 percent). But by targeting users who’ve self-identified their interests through search, Yahoo has made display ads into a far more valuable marketing tool. Meanwhile, retargeting gives search marketers a second chance to engage with searchers, who may not have converted through initial search queries — or who may have abandoned brand engagement initiated via search.
This combination seems to work. For example, the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog post mentioned above notes, “The University of Phoenix found that Search Retargeting helped it achieve an effective cost per lead at the same level as its search campaign, and 50% cheaper than its regular display retargeting efforts.”
The competitive wrinkle
While search retargeting undoubtedly will open a wealth of opportunity for advertisers, there's a competitive wrinkle that’s worth keeping in mind.
In the “traditional” search model, marketing is winner-take-all. Once a searcher clicks on an ad, the marketer can keep that searcher away from other advertisers — all the way through conversion, if things go well.
Networkwide retargeting, like Yahoo’s Search Retargeting, changes this equation. Even after an advertiser has “captured” a searcher in the search engine, other marketers still have a shot at capturing that searcher once again. On the one hand, this means marketers who’ve missed a chance with a search customer get a second chance they wouldn’t have had before. On the other hand, search advertisers now need to pay Yahoo twice to hold on to the search leads they’ve pulled in.
Whether that’s good news or bad news depends on which side of the competition you’re on. But it certainly means that as Yahoo Search Retargeting becomes more entrenched and behavioral search networks like it become more common, the competitive landscape in search will change completely.
Targeting the future
Indeed, Search Retargeting — and other behavioral targeting systems like it — seems to be the wave of the future. To wit, two weeks after Yahoo announced Search Retargeting, Google released “interest-based advertising,” or ad placements in Google’s publisher network based on users’ prior visits to sites across the Internet.
As new forms of targeting alter the marketing landscape, you may want to ask yourself if you’re taking full advantage of all the available targeting opportunities — or if your search competition is out-targeting you.