At its splashy NewFronts event at New York’s Lincoln Center yesterday – where even the iconic fountain was tinted purple – Yahoo unveiled plans to go up against the likes of Netflix with two of its own original TV series, as well as a deal with concert promoter Live Nation in which it will create and stream one concert a day for a whole year.
The moves are part of Yahoo’s efforts to remake itself into a hipper company that can attract 18- to 34-year-old viewers – so coveted by advertisers – and then to help advertisers reach these audiences.
“We have focused on talent and reimagined every one of our products over the past 21 months,” chief executive (CEO) Marissa Mayer told the audience, made up largely of advertisers, agencies, broadcasters, and potential Yahoo partners. That has led to a growth in traffic, Mayer says, with more than 880 million monthly users seeking out Yahoo and as many as 430 million of them now on mobile.
Mayer said that Yahoo will focus on looking for unique ways to connect advertisers to users in the areas of mobile, social, native advertising, and video. She then turned over the details to chief marketing officer (CMO) Kathy Savitt.
The most concrete news was focused around video, with the new content announcements. “As video discovery becomes more important, it has become harder to find the right audience. Yahoo connects these audiences with the brand by showing content from some of today’s biggest creators,” said Savitt.
Yahoo is launching Sin City Saints, which will revolve around a struggling basketball team in Las Vegas, and Other Space – a sci-fi comedy about people who find themselves in an alternate universe, produced by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig. The announcement fell a little flat, however, as Yahoo does not yet have clips of either one. The shows are expected out toward the end of 2014.
In more news, Yahoo will stream one concert per day for one year with the help of concert promoter Live Nation, featuring all-star acts as well as emerging bands. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino also made an appearance to explain his enthusiasm for the deal.
“We haven’t had the distributor that has the eyeballs and brings [our content] to so many homes until now,” he said. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts are already on board as sponsors.
Savitt also brought out Katie Couric to talk about her role on Yahoo Digital News, and interviewed the editors of Yahoo’s new series of digital magazines, which cover food, tech, fashion, and beauty.
Meanwhile, Ned Brody, head of ad sales at Yahoo for the Americas, made a pitch for Yahoo’s ability to help brands reach their ad targets, emphasizing that the company can draw on its vast data about its users to help them target the relevant audience. “Most advertisers today are forced to piece together data from multiple sources, which is hard to manage,” he said.
Brody also spoke about Yahoo’s new partnership with ComScore, in which ComScore’s validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) will be integrated into Yahoo’s ad serving and reporting platforms. Brody says the deal will offer trusted third-party ad measurement to digital advertisers.
Header bidding is a programmatic technique that allows publishers to offer their inventory through multiple ad exchanges before they serve up ads from their ad server.
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