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Monday, August 08, 2005

Yahoo! Publisher Network to Compete with Google AdSense

By Jim Hedger, StepForth News Editor,
StepForth Placement Inc.

For the past four years, Google has been the undisputed leader in search. Its
rivals, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask Jeeves have spent the past few years working to
narrow the vast technological and popularity gap between them and the great
Google. It has been a long and hard fought series of skirmishes and battles but
this week, two of the three, Yahoo! and

Ask Jeeves
, signaled they might be getting closer.

In June 2003, Google made one of the wildest moves in the history of the
Internet by innovating on the paid-advertising idea originally conceived by
Overture. Already the most popular tool among search engine users, Google gave
website publishers a revenue generating gift that kept on giving. Google's great
PPC innovation was to permit AdWords advertising to appear on private websites,
splitting the click-through fees 50/50 with the private webmasters whose sites
delivered traffïc. By giving private webmasters the opportunïty to generate
incidental revenues by acting as billboards for AdWords, Google saw profïts from
AdWords skyrocket while Internet users became conditioned to accept the small
and unobtrusive ads.

The paid-search advertising market is worth billions and is expected to be
worth tens of billions in a few years time. Yahoo! is betting that market will
support a growing network of small to medium sized online publishers who will in
turn bring more revenues to Yahoo!. Google, which generates over 90% of its
enormous revenues from the AdWords program, might face serious competition from
Yahoo!, which currently receives about 60% of revenues from paid-advertising.

This week, Yahoo! released a beta-test version of a similar program known as
the Yahoo! Publisher Network or YPN. Open to a limited number of testers,
including StepForth News, the YPN is meant to compete directly with Google's
AdWords program. The beta is open, for the most part to US based users only.
StepForth is fortunate to be among the few non-US based beta testers.

Yahoo! has had two long years to study the AdSense model and appear to have
adopted a unique publisher-focused philosophy offering small and medium sized
publishers access to syndicated Yahoo! products and services in a bid to brand
Yahoo! content as well as Yahoo! generated paid-advertising. In other words,
Yahoo! is not only serving paid-ads to webmasters, it is also helping them bülk
site content with Yahoo! products such as search, shopping, travel, RSS,
user-option personalization featured, and eventually, Yahoo! syndicated music
and video services.

"Yahoo! has developed many highly successful relationships with web
publishers around the world, and is building on those experiences to bring new
revenue sources and compelling content to even more high quality sites," said
Bill Demas, senior vice president, Yahoo! Partner Solutions group. "By helping
the broader publishing community maximize the value of their sites, we aim to
create an even more rewarding Internet experience for publishers, advertisers
and users."

Much like AdWords, YPN will be a revenue generator for webmasters by
delivering advertisements that match the topic of the document they are placed
on. The Content Match™ feature enables publishers to place Yahoo!'s
contextually-relevant listings on their sites and receive a share of the revenue
generated by them. For example, ads that might appear in future editions of the
StepForth Newsletter would likely be about search engines, search marketing,
blogs, and/or tools for SEOs and website designers. Contextually driven
advertising is cool but, profitable as it is, PPC is not the full story behind
the YPN.

The Internet is the backbone network of global communications. Currently
facilitating shopping, travel bookings, entertainment and instant-research, the
Internet has supplanted traditional tools such as television and radio because
it can easily mimic both mediums while simultaneously performing a number of
other functions. Users interface with the Internet via documents that are, for
the most part, created and posted by small to medium sized publishers. Yahoo!
has adopted a publisher focused outlook and is looking to place its brand on
information and entertainment content offered (eventually) on tens of millïons
of websites.

As publishers from every medium understand, the key to success is in keeping
a captivated audience. One of the more interesting features of the YPN will be
access to Y!Q, a
context-driven search tool which is also in beta-test. Y!Q is a Yahoo! search
application that uses the topic of the document it is embedded in or a
trigger-word set by the webmaster to present search results in a transparent
overlay. The results shown in the overlay consist of images, two news stories,
and the first three organic search listings. The logic is site users will stay
on a document instead of opening another search window and traveling away from
the site. Y!Q is an open-beta. Webmasters interested in using Y!Q on their sites
should refer to the Y!Q
for publishers
page .

Other integrated features in the beta include, Add to My Yahoo and Yahoo
Maps, showing an inclination towards local, mobile and personalized search

Add to My Yahoo! will
help webmasters and publishers find their way onto user monitors and
personalized search results via the Yahoo! branded RSS feed and subscription
service. RSS stands for really simple syndication and is basically a XML feed
that delivers fresh content to people who subscribe to it. As with Y!Q, Add to
My Yahoo! is already available for webmasters and publishers.

The inclusion of Yahoo! Maps shows
Yahoo!'s understanding that user or webmaster generated maps are extremely
important for local and mobile search users. Yahoo! has recently introduced an
API for Yahoo! maps allowing webmasters to place geographic information on
Yahoo! generated maps.

Yahoo! timed the release of the YPN beta to coincide with next week's Search
Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose. As beta testers, we will be using some
of these features in future editions.

The Author

Jim Hedger is a writer, speaker and search engine marketing expert based in
Victoria BC. Jim writes and edits full-time for StepForth and is also an editor
for the Internet Search Engine Database. He has worked as an SEO for over 5
years and welcomes the opportunïty to share his experience through interviews,
articles and speaking engagements. He can be reached at

by: Shawna Seigel

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