Two Yahoo Brains Join up with Behavioral Targeting Firm

Behavioral targeting firm ChoiceStream, which generates personalized ad offers based on an individual’s past shopping behavior, has dipped into the brain trust at one of its top customers — Yahoo — to fill out its own executive and board member ranks.

Cheryl Kellond, previously VP, advertiser product marketing at Yahoo, will lead the company’s advertising business. And Yahoo’s chief data officer and EVP, Usama Fayyad, will sit on the company’s board of directors. Fayyad has been a customer of ChoiceStream at Yahoo since 2004, the same year Yahoo hired him from Revenue Science, the behavioral targeting firm he founded. Fayyad is credited with launching Yahoo Research and heading the company’s efforts to analyze the click-streams of its half-billion strong global audience.

At Yahoo, Kellond drove product strategy for search, display & video advertising. ChoiceStream’s offering has similarities to Yahoo’s SmartAds product, which allows marketers to dynamically generate ad offers and creative based on various audience criteria, including geography, demographics and past behavior. Kellond initially told ClickZ she oversaw the SmartAds product, but later said this was not the case. Her role was to prioritize Yahoo’s engineering investment in its ad products, including SmartAds.

“There’s no better indicator of future purchase behavior than actual shopping and purchase data,” Kellond told ClickZ. She said tests of ChoiceStream’s technology in existing media campaigns have shown it delivers a 3X lift in the revenue those campaigns generate. The product also boosts clicks, conversion rates, and average order sizes, she said.

Kellond left Yahoo last summer, when publicity over the company’s exodus of talent was at its peak. Her resignation came after Tim Cadogan, former SVP search, listings, and display marketplaces, split in April and before Tod Teresi, SVP Yahoo publisher network, left in August.

Kellond believes the display ad market, where CPMs have fallen precipitously in recent months, will continue to perform well for advertisers who embrace data-driven targeting. She argues marketers who have already optimized their search campaigns will be hard-pressed to justify spending more on that channel, and will seek other relevant ad vehicles online.

“A lot of advertisers in a bit of a pinch,” she said. “They have squeezed all the juice they can out of search. They’re looking for that high ROI high impact marketing vehicle.”

ChoiceStream’s customers include many of the Web’s largest marketers and retailers, including, Borders, Tesco, and AT&T.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Yahoo had acquired Revenue Science, and that Cheryl Kellond oversaw Yahoo’s SmartAds product. It did not, and she did not.

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