Yahoo announced today what we and some other companies have already been asked to test on behalf of a few hand-picked clients – the addition of what they call “rich” search advertising on their results page. Just as organic search results have become “universal” with the addition of video assets and other social media tools, Yahoo is hoping that rich search ads will serve to bring users a better experience and advertisers to open their wallets.
This is strictly a big brand initiative and Yahoo has rolled out an unusual new pricing strategy that reflects this. The only available keywords are branded ones (i.e. “Toyota” versus “fuel economy”) – this is essentially a branded take-over of the top of the search reply page. Pricing is a monthly flat fee determined by a combination of the advertiser’s industry vertical and their past performance. Given Yahoo’s projected conversion lift over a standard branded search campaign of anywhere from 20% to 40%, this could give a bit of wiggle room to the first wave of advertisers.
Will this haul Yahoo back into search engine contention? Probably not, but differentiating themselves from Google is a good thing at this point. Yahoo is also talking about extending flat-fee pricing across standard search advertising, which in theory would be a big break with bid and quality management.