Yahoo's front-page news stream will begin displaying personalized ads alongside news articles and other features within the next 48 hours. Stream Ads, the new ad product, is already garnering interest from various advertisers and comes just a few months after Yahoo introduced the news stream on its home page.
Scott Burke, SVP of advertising and data platforms at Yahoo, says an industry trend and internal strategy are coupling to drive the new performance-based native advertisements.
"The industry trend is to evolve display advertising to be more consistent with the user experience," he tells ClickZ. "Some folks call it native advertising, we're calling it stream advertising...We all believe industry wide is the way to go."
By leveraging the data it holds on its users and their personalized news streams, Yahoo believes it can provide a better experience for its users and higher performance for its advertisers. "Most other major publishers don't have the level of science, investment, and platform engineering that we do," Burke says.
Stream Ads will have a similar look and feel to the news articles that will share space with the ads, and Yahoo plans to improve those features after the new ad product goes to market based on early results.
"The principle that we have here is developing an ad unit and an ad format that shares the same information architecture with the content that it's near," says Burke. "Our ad format will be consistent with the content in the stream."
"Since we launched our Yahoo news stream in February, our users have responded by visiting more, staying longer, and increasing their engagement with our content. Like with web search, users appreciate complementary, unobtrusive advertising, and we're committed to delivering just that. Advertising can, and should, enhance content discovery in a seamless and effective manner," CEO Marissa Mayer writes in a post announcing the new ad format. "The more our users spend time with Yahoo, the more relevant and personalized the content and advertising becomes. Stream Ads are the sponsored twin to our newsfeed articles and are every bit as personalized and engaging."
Yahoo declined to disclose any numbers to help gauge how much the news stream is driving longer and more frequent visits to the home page, but Burke reiterates that all signs point upward. "We're very confident we're on the right track because we're seeing upticks in every metric across the board in user engagement," he says.
"We have really broad interest on this, and you'll see that as soon as the ads start running," adds Burke. "It won't just be a few here and there. It's going to be a broad turnout."
Yahoo also introduced a new Billboard ad unit based on IAB standards that will dominate the home page above the fold. Yahoo sold a similar large-scale ad unit to brands in the past, but it has refined the product as it works to improve and design ad formats throughout Yahoo's platform, Burke says.
"The purpose there is to help the brand buy big reach and make a splash on a new product," he adds.
Finally, the new Stream Ads will also begin appearing in Yahoo's mobile and tablet apps, giving brands a path to reach consumers across all three major platforms with a single ad buy.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 19, 2014