Yahoo has introduced display advertising on its mobile-specific Web sites in 19 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The move, which follows a year of aggressive expansion in the wireless space, marks Yahoo's first formal rollout of graphical ads on its sites around the world.
Separately, the company released a new version of its downloadable mobile client, Yahoo! Go 2.0. Dubbed "Gamma," the platform upgrade includes integration with Pepsi's FreeRide sweepstakes campaign.
"Overall our goal is to be the #1 mobile Internet player globally, and the #1 in mobile monetization globally," said Elizabeth Harz, VP of category strategy for Yahoo. "Both of these are very important steps in that goal."
The ads on Yahoo's mobile sites are part of a new publishing platform built to better deliver both content and marketing messages to the company's mobile users. According to Yahoo, the system can fluidly target ad sizes and creative according to the screen size and other capabilities of a given device.
Banners appear near the top of the home pages for the nations where the platform is being offered, which include the U.S., U.K., France, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, India, Thailand and Australia, among others. The ads include click-through and click-to-call features.
Eight global advertisers have run ads using the new system, including Infiniti, Intel, Nissan, Procter & Gamble Asia Pacific and Singapore Airlines.
Yahoo's Harz said the company has been in talks with these and other global accounts well in advance of releasing the platform, and that their mobile media buys can be placed through the same Yahoo sales channels their online display advertising. "It's a very easy way to add a global mobile campaign to their desktop initiatives," she said.
She added the decision to sell ads only on the home page reflected a desire to "get to market as quickly as possible." She said ad placements on other Yahoo mobile pages will be offered in the near future.
One of the launch advertisers, Hilton's Embassy Suites, is a longtime Yahoo advertiser. According to John Lee, VP of brand marketing and communications, the company is bullish on the potential of wireless advertising in the travel and hospitality category; but he said previous mobile advertising had generated limited bookings. To drive more leads, Embassy is offering extra "Hilton Honor Points" loyalty incentives and has set up a dedicated 800 number to better attribute the portion of its bookings that from the Yahoo mobile flight.
"With our category in particular... this is a very relevant, a very timely medium," he said. "We can provide a service to business travelers if they get in a jam. There are a myriad of scenarios where this kind of technology goes beyond pure advertising."
According to Telephia, Yahoo's mobile services reach six percent of the U.S. mobile audience. Mobile measurement firm M:Metrics meanwhile estimates Yahoo's U.S. reach for all mobile services is 14.5 million U.S. wireless subscribers, outpacing nearest competitors Google, MSN and AOL. Yahoo does not share self-reported reach statistics for its global mobile audience.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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