Google and Enhanced Campaigns may have gotten more air time, but Yahoo’s been busy in 2013. First, they did a revamp of their homepage; in April, they launched their new native ad unit, “stream ads”, that show within the organic content stream.

Since then, Yahoo has opened up the ads to their other properties (Sports, Music, TV, Mail, OMG!, etc.), along with improving their targeting algorithm and now providing internal conversion tracking and optimizations. At 3Q Digital, we’ve seen success with these highly engaged ads, specifically since the changes to targeting and optimizations.

We’ll break down the new units: what they look like, how they work, bidding/targeting options, and the positives and negatives we’ve seen to date.

First, here’s how they look:

yahoo instream ads

(images courtesy of Yahoo)

To create an ad:

-Write a title and description, add your URL, and upload an image.
-Preview your ad on all device types.
-After you create an ad, create more ads with the Clone feature.

To create a campaign:

yahoo UI

-Go to the Campaigns tab.
-Set a time frame.
-Enter your budget and the most you’re willing to spend per click.
-Select your targeting preferences.

Speaking of targeting, here are some quick nuts and bolts on the particulars:

Bidding: Yahoo allows for CPC bidding with a daily or lifetime budget.

Targeting: For domestic users, Yahoo lets you target based on country, state, city and/or DMA (it also allows international users to do the same if they visit the US site).

Structure: Yahoo has an ads-> campaigns -> account structure and omits ad groups.

For tracking options, you’ve got:

Non Conversion Data
-UI: Clicks, Impressions, CTR, CPC, Spend (Account, Campaign, Ad Level).

Conversion Data
-Outside of Yahoo! you should use whatever analytics tool you already use and just tag URLs.
-Internally, use Yahoo! Pixel. Reps will optimize properties based off of conversion data. (Note: we HIGHLY recommend using this option.)

Historical Performance

We used the internal optimization on day 40. Here’s what happened.

-CPA decreased from $100 to $62.
-Conversions increased from 8/day to 15/day.
-No change in spend.

-CTR: .19%
-CPC: $.21
-Initial bid: $.5
-Current Bid: $.75

After running the ads for a couple of months, we’ve developed some thoughts on best practices, pros, and cons. Here goes:

Best practices

-For conversion tracking, make sure to use analytics tags and use Yahoo’s internal tracking
-Keep your initial bids between $.50 and $.70 and your initial budgets to >$150/day to gain traction
-Test top search display/ad text, but expand and leverage longer ads. Be sure to test bold and creative images
-Leverage your reps


-It’s a huge awareness driver in a highly engaged environment
-Allows smaller budget clients to leverage high-traffic placements with manageable CPCs
-Proven to work for ecommerce with $100 AOV
-Yahoo!’s Internal conversion tracking is kicking butt so far


-You can’t see data at the property level (Mail, Sports, homepage, etc.)
-Currently limited in terms or targeting (NOTE: this is being upgraded frequently)

We’d recommend that you try these ads if:

-You are looking for new opportunities outside the GDN
-You are seeing high CPCs in GDN and can’t sustain a manageable CPA
-You’re in ecommerce and want to leverage the holiday traffic on a highly engaged placement

Have you used the Yahoo native stream ads? What’s been your experience?


  1. John Lee November 22nd, 2013

    How do you target based on product, service, theme, etc.? And because you can’t (that I’ve seen), what kind of traffic quality are you receiving? I see the spike in conversions, but I’m at a loss for how this was targeted.

    What vertical was this advertiser in? And to what extent did Yahoo! reps manage this?

  2. Melissa Kowalke November 22nd, 2013

    Hi John,

    There is still no specific way to target based on product or service, yet. However, Yahoo’s algorithm focuses on driving volume to properties on Yahoo that historically perform well for your ads (have seen conversions), similar to how DCO works for AdWords. Once we implemented Yahoo! Conversion tracking, instead of just tracking through GA, Yahoo was able to start serving our ads to the type of users and content that was most likely to convert.

    This specific case was for a bio-themed client that was focused on driving transactions. The Yahoo! reps sent us weekly conversion reports, and gave us advice when it came to driving a lower CPC and higher CTR with ad testing (standard stuff here), but most importantly they were solely in charge of adjusting the internal targeting for the ads to make sure we were hitting our CPA goal. Yahoo is still very coy when it comes to discussing exactly how they can see the data internally and how the specific targeting works, which is definitely the main issue that people have. However, because it still is relatively new, our clients have seen really lows CPCs and by tracking conversion internally, a manageable CPA. I do agree that the lack of transparency does not make this a viable platform for certain types of accounts, depending on your goals, sales cycle, etc., but I think it’s a great ad unit to test to drive new visitors to your site (we average a rate around 90%), and if you can leverage the internal conversion tracking, a great source for additional conversions.

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Melissa Kowalke
-Melissa Kowalke joined 3Q Digital's Chicago office in early Spring 2011. Since then, she has managed multiple E-commerce, Lead Gen and Brand-driven clients across Search, Display and YouTube. Melissa's main focus and expertise lies in YouTube promotion, specifically TrueView, where she manages 3Q Digital's largest YouTube campaigns. When she isn't driving YouTube views, Melissa can be found traveling the Bavarian countryside with her husband, or cooking delicious Japanese food.