CES 2014: Yahoo Reveals Aviate Acquisition, News Digest App & New Ad Product Suite

marissa-mayerYahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, delivered a keynote speech at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday, in which she announced the firm’s acquisition of Aviate, the launch of the company’s News Digest app service, and the release of its new ad products.

Mayer’s first announcement was that Yahoo has snapped up Aviate, which makes over 30 startups the firm has acquired since Mayer took over the reins of the company in 2012.

Aviate is the brains behind a smartphone app that automatically brings up relevant information or other apps to suit a user’s activity.

“By using signals to understand a person’s context – such as WiFi, GPS, accelerometer or time – Aviate automatically surfaces information at the moment it is useful,” Yahoo explained, hinting that Mayer is looking to challenge Google’s Now service.

Mayer said, “Imagine if your phone can deliver the right experience to you at the right time instead of you having to search for it. What if your phone suggested music and map apps when you got in your car or fitness apps when you got into the gym?”

Yahoo plans to integrate the technology into its Android experience, and Mayer said that the company will continue to develop the product throughout 2014.

During her CES keynote, Mayer also spoke about the launch of Yahoo News Digest, which uses technology developed by Summly, which the firm acquired in 2013.

Yahoo’s news aggregation service will deliver news to iPhone and iPod Touch devices twice daily, providing summaries of the day’s most important news based on what each user wants to know.

Of course, the above moves are the perfect place to introduce new types of monetization opportunities and that is exactly what Yahoo is doing. Mayer said that the company is introducing a suite of new ad products under a unified brand called Yahoo Advertising, as it battles to reverse the decline in its share of digital ad revenues, as well as streamline the way advertisers buy ads on its properties.

A new ad buying platform called Yahoo Ad Manager will be introduced. This will offer advertisers a number of tools that will enable them to have direct and hands-on access to the kind of ads they can buy, and the audience they can reach.

Yahoo Ad Exchange will also be brought out. This will be a replacement for Right Media, the exchange it bought seven years ago only to see Google’s DoubleClick ad exchange take the spotlight. The Yahoo Ad Exchange is for online publishers to sell space that they are unable to sell directly. Or as Yahoo puts it, “the new global ad marketplace built on the capabilities and scale of Right Media, providing more advanced inventory and demand controls, payment clearing, and flexible private marketplaces.

“We know the digital advertising world is fragmented and we want to make it easier for advertisers to achieve the reach, targeting, and ad effectiveness they want. The new Yahoo Advertising aligns all of our advertising products and platforms under the Yahoo brand, making it simple and clear for partners. We’re also making it possible for advertisers to access our suite of ad products directly through a unified buying platform, across desktop and mobile, native and display, and Yahoo and third-party programmatic inventory – all with the benefit of comprehensive analytics,” says Scott Burke, senior vice president, Advertising Technology at Yahoo.

In a deeper delve into native advertising, Yahoo is also expanding some of its ad tools on Tumblr, the microblogging platform that it acquired last May. Tumblr’s sponsored posts will now be powered by Yahoo Advertising and will integrate features that will allow advertisers to target users based on gender, geography and other data points, ultimately aimed at producing better ads to the right audiences.

“The average Tumblr post is re-logged 14 times”, said David Karp, founder of the company, addressing the audience with Mayer at CES. “That’s a huge part of the distribution power of Tumblr. And for promoted posts, it is actually 10,000 times, on average,“ he noted.

Burke says that native advertising will continue to be a big focus for Yahoo because it believes advertising should be as engaging as the content itself – and because native ads are especially critical in mobile content and apps.

Commenting on Yahoo’s developments, Hugh McGoran, chief revenue officer at search retargeting company, Magnetic, says that Yahoo is riding the crest of what seems like a strong turnaround effort since Mayer took over in 2012.

“Strong stock growth, building audiences and a slew of new products show that they are attempting to capitalize on some of their renewed luster. There is still strong brand equity in the now 20 year-old company, so the move to rebrand Right Media to the Yahoo Ad Exchange and their audience data platform Genome as Yahoo Audience Ads bets that buyers will also gravitate to the revitalized Yahoo.

“The company looks to be covering many bases: strong mobile audience growth, a slew of acquisitions like Aviate and an apparent born-again belief in content. This should make marketers and media buyers give Yahoo another look, or at least help justify their existing relationships with Yahoo… I think that media competitors will have a tough time battling the heft that Yahoo brings to the table.”

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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