Agencies React To Yahoo Ad Products; Mobile Advertising Remains A Mystery

Marissa-MayerIn a rare instance, Yahoo’s advertising products shared the limelight with the company’s consumer-facing ones when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer unveiled the company’s new ad products among other new offerings at the Consumer Electronics Show. Ad agency execs responded to Yahoo’s new ad products optimistically, however, some areas remain unclear, such as the development of its mobile advertising products.

As part of its new ad offerings, Yahoo revealed that it is replacing its real-time bidding platform Right Media with an enhanced version, called the Yahoo Ad Exchange. It is also expanding the services offered by its audience-targeting and data management software program Genome and renaming it Yahoo Audience Ads. It has also rolled both products into Yahoo Advertising, an umbrella suite of capabilities and tools.

Whether Yahoo’s Ad Exchange and Audience Ads will prove to be more than just a rebranding effort, “time will tell,” said Shelby Saville, EVP of digital at Spark, a Starcom MediaVest Group agency. “It seems that they’re trying to set themselves up for the future by moving Right Media and Genome from being discrete ad products into a broader platform for agencies and brands,” she said.

Josh Jacobs, global CEO of Omnicom Media Group’s trading desk, Accuen, and former VP of ad tech platforms at Yahoo, described Yahoo’s new advertising initiatives as “long overdue.”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer “has been focused on cleaning up the consumer side of the business and so I see this as a much needed clean up and integration of their ad products,” Jacobs said.

As for Yahoo’s programmatic strategy, Jacobs added that the company still has to “flesh out its definition of what programmatic advertising means in the premium space, but so do many other companies.”

Alex Andreyev, director of omnichannel marketing at Neo@Ogilvy, pointed to native and mobile advertising as increasingly notable aspects of Yahoo’s ad strategy. Through its “investments in mobile and native ad formats,” Yahoo is “taking their content further,” Andreyev said.

In addition to its Stream and Image ads, which Yahoo introduced last year as native ad formats, it has rolled out sponsored posts for Tumblr as another native ad format.

As for mobile, the Sunnyvale company has acquired a number of startups that provide consumer-facing mobile products and services such as the news reading app Summly (which has been repackaged as Yahoo News Digest) and Aviate (it figures out which apps to display on a mobile device’s home screen).

Yahoo has been slower to act in its mobile advertising efforts, however. After it acquired the mobile ad targeting and data-management software provider AdMovate, little has been said about the startup’s technology since it was acquired roughly six months ago.

While Saville said she has not received any updates on AdMovate, she added that she welcomes further developments in Yahoo and other vendors’ mobile advertising solutions. “We’re looking for solutions in the mobile space that are congruent to the consumer experience,” Saville said. “We want to see things that are not just tiny banner ads on mobile devices, but products that add to the consumer experience and are scalable. That’s a challenge that we put to all our vendors.”

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