Yahoo Launches Genome to Leverage Audience Data

Although Yahoo still doesn’t have any long-term stability at the CEO position, the company has moved ahead with the launch of its data-driven audience targeting network as planned. As the company struggles to find its place and relevance among more dynamic competitors, it is staking at least some of its future success on Genome, a product it built with the recent acquisition of Interclick and inventory partnerships with AOL and MSN.

The Genome platform enables marketers and brands to build data-rich targeting into their campaigns across Yahoo’s vast inventory. When the company unveiled Genome almost two months ago, Rich Riley, Yahoo EVP Americas, said it would satisfy a “a big unmet need for targeting and greater insights.” However, the news was largely overshadowed by the abrupt departure of former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson.

Yahoo claims the platform incorporates more points of data than any other targeting technology on the market. “Genome recommends the optimal combinations of data sets and inventory, agnostic of data or media source,” said Peter Foster, general manager of audience and performance advertising at Yahoo, in response to questions.

“The thesis behind our offering is that there is no silver bullet when it comes to data,” added Foster. “There is no single data type or source that will always fit the needs across all of our clients, so the goal is to aggregate the most amount of high quality, high-signal data across a myriad of partners to be able to understand consumers holistically. The types of data range from rich intent data, to social interaction data, to some of the more static data types such as demographics and a lot in between.”

Yahoo hopes that it can help marketers understand and leverage the explosion of data with the information it collects on users such as search queries and user behavior, and compound the value of those profiles with third-party data from more than 25 other data providers, including BlueKai and eXelate. Hundreds of Yahoo’s existing clients have already been introduced to Genome, and brands such as BMW and STP are targeting on the platform. For the time being, Yahoo is only pushing Genome to the top online advertisers.

“When brands and marketers don’t favor a particular data set and allow algorithms to rate each data point on its ability to drive campaigns,” Foster said, “there is no such thing as too much data.”

While Yahoo tries to make its mark on data-driven audience targeting with Genome, its interim CEO Ross Levinsohn earned a welcome settlement with Facebook over patent disputes that has made way for a new advertising partnership and expanded distribution agreements. The deal includes a patent portfolio cross-license and calls for both companies to collaborate further on promoting and distributing content across Yahoo and Facebook.

Note: This story was revised to include comments from Peter Foster.

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