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5/28/2007
  Annoying Differences Between Yahoo Panama and Google AdWords

Well before Panama launched, I entreated Yahoo to just copy Google's interface. Copying the key commands is how Excel took over the market from Lotus 1-2-3.

They did not. They made up their own UI conventions. So far, after about 8 months of use, I'm disappointed at how few improvements in UI workflow Yahoo has made. During the same time, Google AdWords has only increased its usability lead. Fundamentally, Google is better at rolling out changes quickly. It's also better at usability.

Here's a little list of easy things Yahoo Panama could do if they want advertisers to be able to spend more and create bigger campaigns quickly:

  1. Get rid of the limits. My account has a ridiculous limit of 30 campaigns. Why?
  2. Copy Google's workflow. In AdWords, when you are looking at an ad group, you can simply press "Previous/Next" to get to the next ad group. Even MSN does this a lot better than Yahoo. They have a breadcrumb navigation that makes all components accessible.
  3. Adapt Google standards for ad display. For example, in Google, you can have a display URL with capital letters and spaces. This url: http://example.com/Bow Wow is rendered as: http://example.com/bowwow in Panama. Annoying and stupid. Google also has a different notion of "lines" in the ad. Just copy theirs!
  4. Enable Keyword substitution that works like Googles. Enable the exact same macros: {KeyWord:Default}.
  5. Allow Keywords to be substituted in the the destination URL. This is a huge pain now because you have to use the "custom url" field to put keywords in the destination, and they are relatively static.
  6. Email-able reports. Google has this, MSN does too. I complained about it back in January as well.
  7. Show all the ads in a single view, with stats, like Google does. Right now, you see the "name" of the ad in Panama, and you have to click each name to see the actual ad.
  8. Introduce an equivalent to "Exact" match! Make keyword matching conventions work just like Google. Even with Standard match, Yahoo considers "word" and "words" to be the same. It handles misspells differently than Google as well.
  9. Make an advanced search / replace function that works like AdWords'.
  10. Turn on international markets in Panama. I shouldn't need a separate account to buy UK ads.

Finally, Panama should just copy the AdWords Editor fat client. For large campaign management, that is a god send. I just changed text on 43 adwords ads in about 3 minutes in AdWords Editor. It'll take me several hours to do that in Panama.

The goal should be for search ad buyers to spend almost no time and bring over large AdWords campaigns into Panama.

Yahoo needs to learn the lesson of Microsoft - "embrace & extend" - there's no shame in simply making the UI work exactly like Google's - Google's done a ton of research on usability that Yahoo could pick up for free. More importantly, they are the market leader, and everyone knows their interface. Standardization means more buyers! Until the Panama team gets that, they won't threaten AdWords.

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