Search Behavior to Dictate Yahoo Ads

At a time when many advertisers are cutting spending, Yahoo is making changes to its core revenue engine in order to make it more powerful and hopefully keep the attention of advertisers. The new ad targeting features announced today could mean you’ll be seeing more and more advertisements based around your searches at Yahoo in the future.

One of the new technologies behind these changes is called search retargeting. Search retargeting lets marketers target people with tailored display ads based upon the search terms used in Yahoo’s search engine.

Search retargeting is just one of three new features Yahoo is rolling out in order to tailor ads based on your behavior. The other two new features are enhanced retargeting and enhanced targeting for search. Enhanced retargeting lets advertisers tune ads according to the websites you’ve visited and what you have done while on those sites. For example, users who visit an airline website to check offers for a specific flight can be shown a personalized offer for that same flight when they visit a page within the Yahoo Network. Enhanced targeting for search lets advertisers adjust ads that are displayed alongside search results based upon the user’s age, gender, and other factors. Enhanced targeting will also let marketers control what time and day of the week they want their ads to run.

Yahoo has made the argument that it’s better for the company to show both traditional search ads as well as display ads with graphics and videos. To put this hybrid philosophy into action, the company has begun testing display ads next to search results.

This new ad targeting technology is an example of the advantages online advertising has over conventional print, TV, radio, and billboard ads: In theory, online ads can be shown to people whose characteristics match the audience that advertisers are hoping to reach. On the flip side, targeted advertising also has the tendency to make people suspicious of how their online behavior is being tracked and used.