Panama ScreenshotYesterday, we attended a private demo of Yahoo!’s new Panama PPC platform.

Hosted by Richard Firminger, Regional Sales Director Northern Europe for Yahoo! Search Marketing, the session did not actually involve a demo of the live system, but provided a useful insight of the new PPC system.

The new platform has been in development for some time and has been eagerly anticipated by PPC advertisers. The current platform used by Yahoo! is extremely clunky, but was never truly designed to be used as it is today. Panama has been redeveloped from the ground up to offer a scaleable platform that is fit for purpose.

Whilst we didn’t see the live system, the screenshots show a vastly improved user interface – this alone will no doubt motivate agencies and advertisers to use the platform. Whilst long overdue, the new interface appears to be very slick, with some extremely nice snapshot information (we especially like the graphs).

As well as a host of new features including a very interesting ‘assists’ report, which will help to identify keywords used throughout a user’s search journey, the core change to the new platform is a move towards the quality score ranking system that Google Adwords has been using for some time and MSN’s adCenter recently deployed.

We are great believers in the quality score approach as it shifts the focus away from bid price to ‘campaign management’. Advertisers will be rewarded for carefully structuring campaigns and testing ad creative to drive click through rates.

Not only can this model lead to cost reduction for the advertisers, but the user experience is typically improved for the search engine’s users. By delivering more compelling / relevant ads, users are more likely to find what they are looking for.

Herein lies the greatest challenge – will the new PPC platform improve Yahoo’s search experience enough to win back some of Google’s market share?

We have no doubt that the new platform will be a welcome improvement for advertisers and agencies, and the painless launch in the US is testament to the fact that it has not been rushed, but Yahoo! needs to increase its share of search queries if it is to become a ‘must have’ in the arsenal of online marketing tools available to advertisers today.

We look forward to working with the new platform and hope that the launch (still no confirmed date for UK launch, but it is imminent) will generate enough interest / buzz to steal some of Google’s thunder.