Ad Industry Roundup: Yahoo/HotJobs; Mercedes; Creative Meets Search; Google; Spot Runner; Guardian

Yahoo HotJobs introduces ranked searches: A dismal economy inevitably tends to lead to more job seekers, so perhaps Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has timed the launch of HotJobs’ new search ranking system just right. Dubbed “R.E.A.L. (for “Relevance, Engagement, Availability and Location”) the system is meant to give recruiters greater insights into job seekers’ behavior. The system uses Yahoo’s behavioral targeting and search optimization tools to rank job listings based on user engagement, as opposed to what Yahoo calls “traditional category-based, date-sorted experience.” So far, Yahoo claims that since the beta launch earlier this year, “applies” per job listing have increased by 25 percent.

Online Music Station, Brought To You By Mercedes: Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz has created a branded music show for its own web-based TV channel. After several internet film shorts, the auto marketer introduced Mixed Tape Music Magazine, a monthly video-magazine show featuring video clips by artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Mark Ronson, on Mercedes-Benz TV. The show grew out of the car maker’s “mixed tape” audio feature that it’s been doing since 2004. Mercedes is consciously trying to avoid overt ads, hoping the creation of the online environment will present a more subtle perception of the brand in the minds of future car buyers.

Making search more creative: Wieden + Kennedy wants to bring the values of traditional creative advertising to search marketing. The Portland-based agency also hired its first director of search, Jason Clement, 28, formerly of Ogilvy and Carat Fusion, to help bridge the divide. Other agencies have turned their focus to search recently as well: for example, Crispin Porter + Bogusky has tapped search data experts to help it better manage that area as well.

Google opens bidding for demos: After a beta launch in January for its AdWords program, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is now fully ready to let marketers bid on ads targeted to specific age groups, genders or both. The demo bidding is available throughout Google’s content network, on certain sites in Google content network, such as MySpace and Friendster, whose users provide that information about themselves. Separately, DM News pointed out that the improvements in the quality of AdWords could lead to higher cost-per-click charges to advertisers.

Spot Runner Introduces Political Ad Targeting Program: Custom ad producer Spot Runner is now offering its services to political parties and advocacy groups of all persuasions. The company has assembled a group of political all-stars to endorse the program: former Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ), Republican political strategist Mike Murphy, Democratic advisory Bob Shrum, and Republican media consultant Dan Schnur.

Guardian Drops Ad Tracker Over Privacy Concerns: The Guardian Online said it will no longer use the services of digital advertising tech company Phorm. The UK news site made the decision after a rising tide of complaints from privacy advocates regarding Phorm’s holding of massive amounts of user data. Phorm’s chairman and CEO Kent Ertugrul sought to defend the company against charges that it was becoming “Big Brother.”

— Some other ad-related links of interest:

AOL Faces Hurdles In Righting Platform-A (WSJ)

NBC To Host Upfront on April 2 (TVWeek)

Clio Awards Assembles Interactive Jury (Release)