Advertising on Google or Yahoo – Which is Better?


Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing which is better? The result may surprise you.

Overture is Yahoo’s equivalent AD display and back end management system.
In truth, Overture is now called Yahoo Search Marketing and originally was a search engine in of itself at one time. Some users may still remember it as go.com

Amongst online marketers ad agencies and others, there is this oft repeated question, “which is better ?…”
Google’s Adword or Yahoo’s Overture ad management system.

Well there is no doubt that at the moment, Google’s management system is significantly better despite Yahoo having had just as much time to get their system up and sparkling.

Significantly better… but what does this mean and if i said, significantly better, I would expect a few of you out there to say, significantly better for what and for whom.

Ahh, now we are getting down to the crux of the matter.

Adwords vs Yahoo Search

For straight up analysis and backend reporting, I doubt that i will get flamed ( much…) for repeating what many technical adcopy and ad agencies already know. The Google backend system is tops. In the sincerest form of flattery, it is the de facto standard and everyone and their brother who runs a search engine and is selling traffic is either attempting to emulate, reverse engineer it or using it as their benchmark in terms of the feature set and analytical tools.

So, does this mean its very, very good – this backend management system?

Well that’s an opinion and not easy to answer definitively. Google’s adwords management has benefited from an incredible amount of usage and finetuning. Google’s internal usability testing also appears to be significantly better than that of most other fortune 50 web companies. So the ad management backend has become the system to beat as a benchmark and has stayed that way for quite some time.

Many long time users who are pay per click specialists could give you a quarter dozen very valid ways of improving the Google Adword system, so it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is well thought out and quite the formidable 600 pound gorilla in this arena

I digress here, but if your company sells an instant gratification product and you knew for a fact, that you rarely if ever received sales between 3pm and 7:30pm on the third Wednesday of every month, perhaps you might turn off your advertising during that time or at the least tune it down significantly. Why, then is it that Google only recently allowed you to see this, and why is it that you still need to do a highly customized report to even easily see this type of trend.

We think that she doesn't use Google

Ahhh, well, some might say, its because the search engines really did not want you to know this level of detail …

All this “shadow confusion” did, was to give room to 3rd party groups like Atlas to build a better mousetrap, ha ha.

But, does the fact, that the google adword system in general have the upper hand over Yahoo’s overture system mean that Acme’s widgets should use this in preference to Yahoo?

Most Pay per click specialists would wisely tell you as a customer.

Test them both, because experience has shown us that its a different set of customers ( demographically ) who use google vs. yahoo.

I have visited this topic once before in this blog and my results then showed that some decision makers appear to inhabit the Overture spectrum and thus several of my customers who were B2B ( Business to business ) had conversion rates on Yahoo that were more than 250% better than Google.

In contrast, a particular customer who ran limousine services seem to do so well from google that there was no persuading this guy to spend one single penny on Yahoo.

In truth, unbeknown to this customer, I tried just to see what might happen and it flopped. Overture would not convert well for this type of business.

So, the answer to this question, is still not black and white.

So, today, you’re about to say, hey buddy since you haven’t given us any really new information why bother waste our time.

Well, I am here to tell you that from November 2007 thru to June 2008, many of my Overture Results have outgunned, outrun, outmanned, outmaneuvered my google adwords by a factor of 1-300%.

After scratching my head for a while and digging around in my campaigns to find out what had gone ( wrong ) or right, i came to the conclusion that a significant number of advertisers bidding on the overture terms had simply gone away, leaving bidding at an all-time low for many of these terms.

So, where had my bidding buddies gone? Well, over to Google of course – i think, hey well i didnt go over there and really check… but what i know is that they are simply NOT in overture!

Check out the Google vs. Yahoo financials over the last quarter and see if that doesn’t bear out my theory.

Google has done such a fine job of branding that every Tom, Dick & Harry ( Apologies to Tom and Dick and Harry ) thinks that they absolutely have to be on Google.

Well, my boss says we have to be on those google ad thingies to get the first position so that’s why i am gonna do…

Well, it could also be that too many of us are tired of using the rather anemic yahoo ad management interface… and it could also be that if any of you were running ads last year this time, you would know that ads promoting retail products did extremely well while b2b business offers going into the XMas season did quite pathetically for many of us.

It could be all of these reasons, a combination or perhaps none at all, but if you are currently running overture ads and google ads, go and check your own results. Depending on the industry that you are in, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

As of February 2008, I would certainly review moving a significant portion of my B2B advertising back to Overture simply because it appears as if the sheep have done the opposite.

And for the uninitiated, you never want to get into a bidding war with the sheep. So, the less bidders ( sheep or otherwise ) the better the chance of getting a reasonable or outright low bid for your very valuable keywords.

Btw, sheep always think that they need to be in the number position. Or sometimes its the sheep’s BOSS who thinks so, but in any case, you never want to get into a bidding war with the sheep, it just too rarely ever pays.

So, Overture/Yahoo has finally put a better management system into place and things are hopefully… looking a little better for both Yahoo and their ad customers.

As an update it appears that after Yahoo and Microsoft fell out of love, Yahoo has made a deal with Google that will give Yahoo another 450 Million annually in advertising Revenue and hands Google 80% of the ad market online.

Update on the update Nov 2009
Don’t you just love Mergers and Acquisitions ?

The deal ( Yahoo/Google ) fell through, probably due to intense lobbying pressure from not only Microsoft but any other US Senator whose own people might feel job insecurity due to the proposed Google/Yahoo deal. That’s the way the real world works and personally, I would prefer as an online marketer to have more choices.

Since the users of both systems will not necessarily migrate from one system to the other, what I wrote above still holds true.

Update on the update on the update Feb 18 2010.

Last week Yahoo sent out a **confidential* message to yahoo ad buyers informing them that yahoo and Microsoft have now got back together again – at least for search. So keep your fingers crossed, keep testing both adwords and yahoo search. Some markets still respond better to one than to the other.
And while we are on this topic. The hottest area for purcashing traffic is now either PPV ( Pay Per View ), Facebook or PlentyOfFish.

These alternatives may be considerably cheaper than either google or yahoo.

Adios.