Yahoo made a host of announcements Wednesday, including some affecting its strategies for local advertising and publisher partnerships. The firm added about 95 newspapers to its newspaper partner group, boosting the total number of paper sites to 779. It’s also expanded its SmartAds ad customization platform for use with online circulars through a deal with ShopLocal, which could create new opportunities for those newspaper partners in the future.
ClickZ News chatted with Todd Teresi, SVP of Yahoo Publisher Network, about the firm’s strategy for its publisher partnerships.
Q: Tell me about the status of your relationships with the newspaper consortium partners. How is integration with the AMP ad management platform coming along?
A: Many of them have already seen the demos and the live working product…. Now we’re moving into the phase where there will be selected partners that will roll out the platform.
We’ll begin those deployments in Q3 of this year…. Probably Q3 through Q4 we will be rolling out with partners in the consortium and then we’ll be moving on to our other partners [including eBay, Comcast and Wal-Mart] after and our owned and operated network…. We had a very specific commitment to the newspaper consortium so we’re honoring that commitment [to roll out the system with them first].
We’re also continuing to add to the consortium. We announced the addition of 90 additional newspapers…. That really continues to show, we think, the positivity and the acceptance of this industry that the solution we’re providing is a good one.
Q: How is the cross-selling process coming along?
A: About 50 of the Newspaper Consortium members are involved in a beta test where they are able to bundle advertising inventory with inventory on their own Web sites for their local advertisers. The members involved have told us that they are very excited about the results so far.
When it comes to non-newspaper publishers like WebMD, while we can’t go into detail, I can say that the cross-selling activity is going very well.
The consortium partners sell local-based inventory, so we give them DMA information to help them sell. WebMD will specifically target their users [on Yahoo]…so, if you’ve recently searched for a health related item [through anonymous cookies], we’re able to find that person and deliver an ad when they’re on Yahoo Mail or Yahoo Sports…. We don’t allow them to sell into Yahoo health.
Q. Why don’t you let WebMD sell into Yahoo health content?
A. We don’t allow them to because we are a very strong competitor in the health market…. We offer very strong packages in reach and frequency.
Q. CBS acquired CNET Networks last month. Will Yahoo’s ad partnership with CNET change at all now that CBS has acquired the tech publisher?
A. Our deal with CNET is the strongest ever; the relationship survived the acquisition…. The CNET relationship is incredibly broad in the way we structured it…. It gives them the ability to really expand their sponsorships, and find those same HDTV enthusiasts [for example] when they’re on Yahoo.com.
We’re excited to talk to the CBS team about how those elements might be beneficial for CBS.
Q. Let’s talk more about Yahoo’s local strategy. In addition to announcing new paper partners, Yahoo just launched its Circular Program, which extends the SmartAds auto-customization technology to online retail circulars using ShopLocal content. Do you envision some sort of combination of this new SmartAds extension with what you’re offering your newspaper partners?
A. The relationship with the newspaper consortium is a multifaceted one…. Having access to SmartAds and the circular product will absolutely do something we see converging over time. What better way to get out to [the local] markets with this product [than to utilize the consortium’s sales teams]?
Q. Some are skeptical when it comes to getting sales forces to sell partners’ products, be they ad products from vendor partners or Yahoo for that matter. What kind of obstacles are you facing when it comes to getting buy-in from partners’ sales teams?
A. We’re just starting this transformation…. We’re just at the beginning of helping them understand how to sell audiences…. We started to [sell partners’ products] with eBay and Comcast about a year ago. We can help [the newspaper partners] avoid any of the mistakes we might have made.
I have an entire team that’s just focused on helping other publishers sell our inventory.
Q. Can you tell me more about that group? How many people are on that team?
A. I won’t disclose the number on the team, but I’ll tell you what they do….They sit down with the partner’s head of sales and help them understand the Yahoo network…. We talk about how you should think about sales incentives.
What we’re actually telling them is, “You’re not actually selling Yahoo; you’re selling your users on Yahoo.”…. We can help give you some context.
That’s important when you’re selling off your own network, to assure marketers that they’re being delivered in the right environment.
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