Yahoo And Its New Ad Platform "APT"

Yahoo Headquarters
Yahoo Headquarters

This morning Yahoo launched its new digital ad platform called "APT from Yahoo." It's an online marketplace for display ads.

It allows publishers of display ads (like newspapers) and buyers of those ads to connect in this web platform that's intended to be an efficient, transparent system.

Apparently the business of selling display ads is incredibly time intensive and complex- it even involves old fashioned technology like -gasp- fax machines to demonstrate what an ad would look like. This new technology aims to make the process of selecting and targeting display ads fast and easy.

Yahoo is rolling this new technology first with a consortium of local newspapers like the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle. Notably, newspapers are really hurting in this ad environment and desperate to grow their online revenue. This APT system allows regional papers to offer their display ads, targeted to certain demographics and bundle those ads together with similarly targeted ads from Yahoo. This allows the papers to grow their inventory while getting the benefit of targeting while Yahoo gets someone else to sell their ads for them. Early next year Yahoo is hoping to get broader inventory on this platform- in talks with ad agencies and publishers now.

Yahoo President Sue Decker told me "this reinforces our commitment to transforming online advertising with an open approach." How does it relate to controversy over Yahoo's upcoming search ad partnership with Google? Decker says it all fits in to Yahoo's position og being "open to all buyers and sellers. She said "using Google to backfill our search ads is no different"- referring to the fact that they're outsourcing search to find efficiency the way they're effectively outsourcing inventory. She made a point that defended the Yahoo- Google deal- stressing "These deals are all open and non-exclusive."

This announcement comes at a time when the future of advertising--particularly newspaper advertising---is looking challenged. Decker wouldn't comment on prospects for the advertising industry as a whole, but she did note that this service making it easier to buy and sell advertising will create efficiencies that are necessarily good for the industry.

I think it's interesting for Yahoo to throw together this morning's presentation as the Google-Yahoo partnership nears. I think it's Yahoo reminding the world that it's still truly independent with it's own area of strength- display ads.

And there was an odd element to today's presentation: it kicked off with a thoughtful speech from the star of the AMC series "Mad Men," John Hamm who plays Don Draper.

It was a well written speech about the history of the ad agency and how challenges have evolved over time.

And I was happy to hear Hamm and will be the first to admit that the show is a favorite of mine. But when he, and Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, compared Yahoo to the fictitious Sterling Cooper ad agency and to the Draper character they seemed to be pushing the limits. I get the value of some ad-related star power, but the integration of "Mad Men" was still a bit odd.

Questions? Comments?