Yahoo brings paid-search to Philippines

Internet company unveils sponsored-search service, Panama, in the country and promises to deliver localized content for the domestic market.

PHILIPPINES--Internet giant Yahoo has unveiled its sponsored-search services in the Philippines, with a promise to deliver localized its content for the domestic market.

Although its sponsored search service was first unveiled last year, this is the first time that the company is launching it on a per-country basis, Jojo Añonuevo, general manager for Yahoo's Philippines operations.

In media briefing Thursday, Añonuevo said Yahoo will initially target the country's small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that have yet to take full advantage of online advertising to expand their business beyond Philippine borders.

The Yahoo executive said these companies have the potential to reach 53 million new customers throughout Southeast Asia, and an even bigger worldwide audience of 500 million.

The company's sponsored search marketing initiative, also known as Panama. Rivals MSN and Google also offer similar paid search services.

Asked why Yahoo is only offering the service now, Añonuevo said "we had to do it" because customers are "demanding" such services.

Yahoo's system was designed to deliver highly-targeted customers leads to its advertisers willing to pay for search results served by the Internet company.

Paul Davis, Yahoo's Southeast Asia manager for content and customer services, explained that the service allows SMBs to place contextually-relevant ads within consumer search results, enabling them to "connect" with customers online for "precisely what they sell".

Davis said: "Depending on the ads they post, and depending on hits, a company may not even shell out substantial amounts of money to occupy a significant and strategic location for the search service."

Añonuevo added that this is what Yahoo aims to bring to local companies. "The worldwide travel and tourism industry has been taking advantage of this business model. We aim to allow more Philippine companies to do the same," he said.

He added that Yahoo is looking at some 781,000 Philippine SMBs for the search service, but declined to give target figure in terms of revenues for the service.

Añonuevo disclosed, however, that Yahoo Philippines will focus a significant part of its marketing and promotional efforts to sell its service to these SMBs.

"There are still concerns, such as the relatively low number of SMBs having online presence, but we are optimistic that this type of service will take off in the Philippines," Añonuevo said.

Another revenue stream that Yahoo is looking at is mobile search, according to the executive.

The Philippines has been enjoying a mobile industry boom, to date, garnering some 50 million mobile subscribers.

Yahoo said it plans to take advantage of this mobile boom and will soon introduce search-related services for the mobile platform. "This is a market that we are also looking at seriously," Añonuevo said.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Philippines will "very soon" establish a full-fledge country office, he said. Although it has currently has temporary office in the country, its marketing and technical support services departments are still located in its Singapore-based regional office.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.