A Yahoo Inc. spokeswoman confirmed this week that the companys search-marketing division, formerly known as Overture Services, plans to start testing graphical banner ads displayed based on their relevancy to a Web pages content in the next few weeks.
"Were always looking at ways of enhancing our services," Yahoo spokeswoman Gaude Paez said. "There are a number of things were looking at doing [in search advertising], including tests well begin for putting sponsored listings in a banner, graphical format."
The test will run on Yahoos network of sites, rather than on partner sites, she said. The ads will be dynamic, initially appearing as a banner ad and then transforming into a sponsored link.
She declined to provide further details about Yahoos plans for the graphical, pay-per-click ads.
For its broad network of sites and services, Yahoo already sold banner ads and other formats to advertisers. But selling contextual banner ads would be a departure for its search marketing division. So far, that division has focused on selling text-based sponsored listings, which appear alongside search results or as contextual ads on content pages.
Last year, Google began selling banner-type ads when it launched its image ad program. This week, Google also made headlines when it added an animated graphical ad format and moved into offering site-targeted ads sold based on impressions rather than on clicks.
Speculation also has grown in recent months that Yahoo will be expanding its search-advertising program for publishers. Yahoos sponsored listings currently appear on a limited number of other sites, but analysts expect the company to offer a broader program, similar to Googles self-service AdSense program, in which a wider variety of publishers can run Yahoos ads.
Editors Note: This story was updated with additional information about Yahoos testing plans.