Search Engine Boot Camp and Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM)

The search engine market in New Zealand is finally starting to heat up a little…

I attended the Search Engine Boot Camp in Auckland, New Zealand last week and was impressed with the level of understanding on online search issues at the conference. While the seminars were pitched at a mixture of SEO and SEM understanding levels it was refreshing to see that some difficult questions were asked and some very useful technical points were on offer for webmasters or developers who are reasonably new to the search world.

There were a few stand-out speakers with the keynote from Craig Wax, Managing Director of Yahoo! Search Marketing in Australia and New Zealand. Craig took the attendees over the imminent launch of the Panama system from YSM for the New Zealand market. If you haven’t heard about it, Panama is the build name for a whole new approach to the YSM bid system (formerly the Overture bid system).

This new version of YSM brings in most of the tools which we expect to see from working with Google Adsense and also offers a few more. The largest change for Yahoo! is the addition of a Quality Score system, similar to Adsense, which means the bidding is no longer going to be a pure price war.

Panama is launching “in the near future” and will launch at the same time as Australia.

The key reason why the Yahoo! Search Marketing platform has not been successful to date in the New Zealand publishing market is the inability to target New Zealand only locations. In the current system advertisers are forced to target “Australia and New Zealand”. This will be a welcome change although it is likely to take some time before Panama has enough advertisers bidding for broad keywords to have the same level of cross vertical exposure that Google Adsense has in New Zealand.

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