Code Name: Project Panama

If you haven’t heard yet, Yahoo! has announced it is holding off updates to its paid search advertising platform. For those of you that are new to Paid Search, you might be scratching your head asking Project Panama, new platform, Yahoo!? What?

Well, never fear. I will give a brief rundown of what was supposed to happen, when, and why it isn’t now.

What: Project Panama (aka Google-clone)

Essentially, Yahoo! Search Marketing plans to become more Google-like in nature. Yahoo’s new “easy-to-use” ad control panel would allow for some of the following:

  • Ad testing, allowing different variations of ads to rotate within a keyword group
  • Geo-targeting, by city, state and country
  • Scheduling, campaign day parting
  • Forecasting, improved keyword search volume estimations and suggestions
  • Fast editorial, automated system allowing listings to appear almost immediately

When: Originally expected to roll out during the third quarter of 2006, before the ever so popular fourth quarter, now pushed back until the first quarter of 2007. What more could the competition ask for? It’s like Christmas in July!

Why it isn’t: Yahoo! states that they did not want to disrupt the ad purchasing and management during the 2006 holiday season.

My question is simple, why would Yahoo! think twice about waiting to roll out Project Panama if it would put them in a position to compete closer with rival, Google? Not to mention, Yahoo! anticipated revenue increases of at least 20%, an estimated $125 million by the end of 2006, potentially $600 million in 2007.

I understand that this is quite an undertaking to completely revamp its search marketing platform, but how confident is Yahoo! in its new system to not roll it out before the fourth quarter rush? It looks like Google will prevail again. Perhaps those of us advertising in Yahoo! should start filling out our Christmas lists early this year, in the hopes that Santa brings us a new Yahoo! Search Marketing interface for 2007.