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January 24, 2007

Panama: The Product Name That Just Won't Die

Yahoo! is facing an amusing problem with the naming of its Yahoo! Search Marketing advertising system: everyone insists on calling it by its code name “Panama”, a name that has deep resonance with the company and users alike.

The problem is compounded by the fact that some users refer to it as “Yahoo Marketing Solutions” while others take the middle road and refer to it as “Yahoo Search Marketing ad system, ‘Panama’” or “Yahoo Search Marketing’s Panama Interface”.

It doesn't help that Yahoo’s own representatives seem to call it “Project Panama”. More than that, some users even confuse it with “Overture,” a now defunct but well loved Yahoo acquisition that has been incorporated into Panama, I mean Yahoo Search Marketing.

Things have gotten so out of hand that one user has started an online competition to help choose a new brand name for Panama—the winner gets a $100 Amazon gift certificate. It seems like this is an ill-fated competition, because on February 5th Yahoo! Will do away with the problem by re-launching the product as Yahoo Search Marketing. Whew!

We have seen how project code names often simply will not go away (Microsoft’s “Origami” is an example) and this one is so much slicker than the cumbersome Yahoo! alternative that we are sure to see it rattle its chains at least through 2007. The lesson here? When it comes to new product naming, make sure the one you choose is better than your code name.

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Posted by William Lozito at January 24, 2007 11:29 AM
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