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More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About MicroHoo

MicroHoo!

Daily readers of this space probably already know to expect this detailed update on Microsoft's and Yahoo's search alliance. Betty Stooksberry, senior director of the search alliance at Yahoo, ran down the details both companies plan to formally announce Tuesday. If you haven't seen the presentation from either company, you will soon. The transition team has been making their way through the client list.

The update focuses on organic search results, features in adCenter to support paid search, and gives a timeline for scheduled releases. Internal testing began two months ago. If testing continues to provide positive organic search results, the Yahoo Search transition to Bing will occur in August and September.

Where does Yahoo's job end and Microsoft's begin each time the platforms work to serve up a query page? Stop and think about it. Two computer processing systems with vastly different code need to meet in the middle to create and serve up one page within milliseconds. A search page consists of a variety of different models that get pulled in by different technologies and rendered on a search page.

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At the time the query occurs, Yahoo need to marry the code on its front page and send a signal to Microsoft. The signal asks what listing and ads there are for the query. The information gets pulled and visually represented on the search page to the person making the search.

The keywords become the connection point between Microsoft and Yahoo. Yahoo sends the keyword and Microsoft sends back all the information related to that keyword in organic listing and paid search ads.

The complicated transition means Yahoo will remain responsible for the left rail and the sorting functions, along with the masthead at the top of the page. Bing becomes responsible for indexing the search content and serving up the content for the queries and the paid search results down the right rail.

For advertisers that rely on organic search for referrals or paid search for sales, Yahoo wanted to provide steps they need to take to prepare for the transition.

The 10 features available at the time of transition means adCenter will adopt Panama tools for the partner network. Three options will become available: opting into the entire network, opting into the owned and operated, and partner sites only. Site inclusion, or domain blocking, will include contextual and search ads. Match type will following the industry standard, which means Yahoo's standard and advanced match types will map to adCenter's exact and broad match types, respectively. adCenter will allow for phrase match and setting bid increments for each.

Not all features in Yahoo will make the transition to adCenter. Microsoft's ad platform does not allow marketers to block distribution in certain continents; rather, it enables you to select distribution in the locations requested. If marketers blocked continents in Yahoo you will need to update these setting in adCenter by targeting customers by geographical location.

Yahoo targets by ZIP code, but adCenter will not. Not initially, anyway. While Stooksberry says it's an area the two companies will consider in the future, I believe companies need that targeting option because IP addresses don't always identify the exact location or the location within two miles of the advertised store. For example, I live in Huntington Beach and the IP address on my computer comes up as Santa Ana, which is 15 to 20 miles away. If I'm looking for a local pizza restaurant I'm not going to drive that far, even if I have a 20% off coupon.

Microsoft adCenter allows advertisers to choose whether they want like to distribute ad groups in the search auction, the content auction, or both. For those importing campaigns from Yahoo, adCenter will maintain the distribution settings. For example, an account with contextual distribution turned off in Yahoo Search Marketing will have content distribution in adCenter turned off at the ad group level. In adCenter, serving content ads to partner sites is automatically turned on when you create a new campaign or ad group.

Microsoft adCenter doesn't offer search ads distribution controls outside the geographic, demographic, and date and time targeting options. The platform will soon have search ads distribution controls that will allow advertisers to choose to serve search ads to Yahoo and Microsoft sites, including Bing, and partner sites, or just to Yahoo and Microsoft sites, including Bing, or just to partner sites.

The two companies are also working to expand the Web site exclusion feature only available today for Content Ads to search ads. Slices of behavior for audience segments do not exist in adCenter either, but the plan is to explore other types of targeting in the future.

When transitioning Yahoo accounts to adCenter, the system will ask you to select the language and market for ad groups. This is the language the ads are written and the market or set of web sites the ads get distributed. In adCenter, the United States, English-speaking Canada, and French-speaking Canada are considered three different markets. Your North American market Yahoo! Search Marketing campaigns will default to the English - United States language and market in adCenter.

Yahoo's canonicalization strategy, where variations of keywords, either plurals or common misspellings, are mapped to one word. The rule will follow AdCenter's way of treating common misspellings and plurals separately.

The combined companies will follow ad copy rules that adhere to industry standards. Yahoo will relinquish its 40-character title limit for adCenter's 25 character limit. The bidding minimum on Yahoo has been 1 cent, but it will now follow Microsoft's minimum bid of 5 cents. And, adCenter will allow for monthly budgets, but offer an optional daily target.

Got all that? 

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