Starcom, Yahoo To Leverage Context for Digital Video Content and Ads

In what was announced like a groundbreaking one-year deal, search house Yahoo and Publicis Groupe’s Starcom yesterday revealed they have teamed up to “make the digital video experience more personalized and relevant.” Both parties declined to give financial details of the deal.

Starcom Double Whammy

The news comes fresh on the heels of another deal struck by Starcom last week, this time with Turner Broadcasting System, which will see Starcom client brands be organically integrated onto original programming on some of Turner’s channels – read: a one-year product placement agreement.

Yesterday’s Starcom-Yahoo agreement was about providing consumers with targeted content, based on data gathered by Yahoo, with an extra layer of highly relevant ads.

In a nutshell: data will drive the content to the consumer. The consumer will be served contextualized ads, tailored to his interests/needs/habits and supported on content that equally matches his interests.


In a telephone interview, Andrew Snyder, vice president of video sales at Yahoo, said that the search house and Starcom “have common vision: with both content and ads optimized for relevance, the consumer wins. And the value created for the consumer is also a win for advertisers.” A win-win.

Starcom: Smart

It sure is a smart move for the perspective of Starcom, who, with both one-year agreements inked within a week, has bumped up its attractiveness to existing and potential clients.

The Turner deal insures brand presence and visibility with highly targeted audiences (TBS, TNT, Adult Swim and truTV).

The Yahoo deal insures brand presence for Starcom clients across multiple screens/devices as the consumption of video on mobiles is exploding in the U.S. With data driving the content and ads, high relevance is also likely to result in increased engagement, bringing all metrics in the greenest of greens for the first time in a while.

Yahoo: Vision for Growth

For Yahoo, it’s an “expanded capacity to connect with clients directly,” Snyder responded as ClickZ asked whether this deal signals a move for the search house towards closer and multiplied relationships with agencies, as part of its overarching growth strategy. His answer was “Yes. We have invested in our relationships. Expanded global agency relationship development is one direction,” adding “We’re focused on delivering a compelling experience for consumers and strong results for advertisers.”

What’s in it for the End-Consumer?

Alas, it seems ads are here to stay. The positive side is that the ads are likely to be highly relevant, i.e. hopefully less annoying and perceptively less invasive, if they are well targeted.

This in itself brings up ye good olde issue… wait for it: privacy, of course. To target content and ads, Yahoo will have to create and store data under profiles for each “consumer.” In various interviews with our counterparts, the question has been raised and the answer given was that the use of the data was “privacy compliant.” Let’s see how that pans out in the future.

Amanda Richman, president, investment & activation, Starcom USA, confirmed that they chose to work with Yahoo because of the latter’s “data breadth and depth coupled with their commitment to original content and partnership.

“Together, we’re flipping the traditional content distribution model, and this partnership signals a true shift in the power and role of data in that process,” she said.

For the moment, it seems the consumer will be served Allstate, Kraft, Kellogg’s, Hallmark, and Jim Beam content and ads. It’s not clear whether you would be served those ads whether you are a consumer of those products and services or not, or if the premium content served will be tailored to tickle your soft spot and talk you into getting to consume from the brands.

Agencies Front and Center

There are a few important takeaways from the Starcom deal. First, Yahoo is poised to come closer and beef up its relationships with agencies, as Marissa Mayer and her teams struggle to revive the brand and boost business.

Second, we’re likely to see such agency partnerships bloom. Smart agencies like Starcom who understand the value of data are set to leverage it to serve clients through a myriad of collaborations forms.

However, bearing in mind that both deals are for one-year, it will be interesting to see if and how Starcom turns them into longer-term agreements. Regarding the Yahoo partnership, the metrics for engagement through the contextualized content and ads should quickly tell what might need be tweaked in order to make things work.

Last but not least, with Publicis Groupe’s merger with Omnicom in the works, we wonder how that will affect the landscape for agency partnerships.

Related reading

CNN screenshot featuring a Simpson’s video parody of President Trump