Yahoo has announced the release schedule for its upcoming ad management platform, and has given it a name: AMP.
Oddly, that’s also the name chosen by Collective Media for its own ad management platform. The Collective system is the backbone for a new newspaper ad network, called quadrantOne, which recently added Yahoo paper publisher partners to its roster.
Despite the name confusion, Yahoo’s platform is intended to simplify ad buying and management across the Web.
The platform, previously known as “Project Apex,” will combine ad and inventory management with media buying in an exchange environment, allowing advertisers and agencies to purchase display, search, mobile and video ads on Yahoo and other publisher properties. Though Yahoo has begun testing its ad sales relationship with a handful of the newspaper sites, integration of the platform itself has yet to begin. Indeed, the newspaper sites won’t experience AMP in any full capacity until at least Q3 of this year. AMP will ultimately become the primary ad management platform for the newspaper partners, according to Yahoo.
The new details come as Microsoft’s shadow looms over Yahoo’s future, and Google and AOL strengthen their own ad tech capabilities.
“Microsoft is clearly a driver,” of Yahoo’s platform announcement today, said Rachel Happe, IDC research manager for digital business economy. Microsoft Friday gave Yahoo’s board three weeks to approve its bid for the company, valued at over $44 billion. Yahoo believes the Microsoft offer undervalues its worth.
“AMP alone is a pretty big product effort for Yahoo,” said Happe. That, in addition to other recent announcements regarding Yahoo’s mobile and e-mail offerings, “will culminate in a bigger message.”
By combining ad sales with ad management tools across a large volume of digital media, Yahoo’s system could rival ad networks like AOL’s Advertising.com, ad management systems from Google’s DoubleClick and Microsoft-owned aQuantive, as well as ad exchanges from DoubleClick and others. Even Fox Interactive Media aims to manage advertising across its sites and those of future partners.
Companies like Google and AOL “will be moving aggressively to bundle their solutions together; that’s a direct alternative to what Yahoo’s been developing,” said Collective Media CEO Joe Apprendi. It’s very important for Yahoo to more clearly communicate what is coming,” he continued. “The publishers need to understand that more than ever now because more alternatives are surfacing.”
Through Yahoo’s new system, advertiser and agencies will look up inventory, determine pricing, view ad layouts for approval and deliver ads within a single interface. The platform will offer behavioral, demographic and geo-targeting across Yahoo and partner sites, and will connect with management and analytics systems already in use by agencies.
According to Yahoo SVP Advertiser Marketplaces and former Right Media CEO Mike Walrath, there will be no requirement to purchase Yahoo inventory through the new platform. “Every user of the platform will decide to what extent they want to participate with any other participant in the market,” he said.
A video on Yahoo’s corporate blog describing the new system portrays online ad buying and publisher fulfillment of larger media buys as a grueling process, often requiring multiple phone calls, faxes and hours. Depending on advertiser goals, however, this process already has been somewhat streamlined by ad networks and exchanges.
Walrath stressed the benefits of the platform’s networked approach, noting that other ad management systems “are standalone instances of technology.” The Yahoo system, he continued, “Ties all that market liquidity together…. The last thing we want to do is build yet another ad server.” Yahoo would not comment on Microsoft or the AMP name.
IDC’s Happe believes the Yahoo system will benefit small and medium sized advertisers and publishers, perhaps more so than larger ones using agencies or sophisticated media planning, buying and inventory management tools. “One of the big opportunities here is on the small and medium sized advertiser front, the ones that aren’t going through the bigger agencies,” she said.
For newspaper publishers that will eventually deploy the system, Yahoo promises national ad dollars and broader reach for local advertisers buying through those partners. For example, a smaller regional car dealer with a well-known local brand may require more ad impressions than a newspaper site could offer. “This allows that local newspaper to sell them those impressions,” said Happe.
“We certainly expect to have a value proposition for smaller advertisers and publishers,” agreed Walrath, who said the platform is intended for use by large clients, too. It will also be available to manage private publisher networks. In the past year, several publishers have developed vertical ad networks offering inventory from their own sites and partner properties; those are built on systems like Adify and Collective Media’s AMP platform.
QuadrantOne, a network of newspaper sites launched in February by Gannett Co., Hearst Corp., Tribune Co., and The New York Times Co., is built on Collective Media’s AMP platform. QuadrantOne recently joined with the same group of paper publishers aligned with Yahoo, to make newspaper sites more appealing to national advertisers. Some see the quadrantOne network as a way for paper publishers to hedge their bet with Yahoo, particularly in light of the Microsoft bid.
Apprendi stressed Collective Media’s platform is focused on powering vertical networks, much different from Yahoo’s goals of becoming the default cross-media ad management system for countless advertisers and publishers. “Obviously we want to make sure that Yahoo knows we’re in market,” said Apprendi regarding the name coincidence. As for trademark conflicts, he added, “I’m not anticipating any problem.”
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