Yahoo Stresses Art in Its Ad Product Mantra

As the battle for premium brand ad dollars heats up online, Yahoo executives are pushing the firm’s latest advertising products, and stressing ad creative. Following an event earlier this month during which Yahoo trotted out new e-mail, search, mobile, and television products, company execs presented products from the new arsenal yesterday during New York’s Advertising Week.

Yahoo’s latest offerings are certainly data and technology driven, but Yahoo is putting more emphasis on the “art” portion of its “science, art, scale” marketing mantra than on the “science” part.

“There’s an emphasis on the art piece,” said Bobby Figueroa, VP, advertising products at Yahoo, during a call with ClickZ yesterday. “A box is not really what is considered art,” he suggested, referring to standard display ad formats.

It’s no surprise Yahoo is pushing the creative strengths of its offerings, considering AOL’s recent campaign for its own new premium ad product – a giant rich media unit designed to better integrate robust multimedia advertiser content with the rest of the web page. “What we’ve actually done is unlocked the banner and put the advertising content on the page itself,” said Jeff Levick, AOL’s president of global advertising and strategy, at the IAB Mixx event yesterday.

Yahoo’s new ad products include a video ad intended to drive traffic to physical store locations, a “Deal Driver” unit that allows consumers to print coupons directly from the ad, and a social media-oriented unit featuring photos, video, and branded social media conversations.

Another new Yahoo ad product, dubbed “The Digitorial,” will put Yahoo’s Associated Content acquisition to use for advertising content, according to Figueroa. The unit displays a mircrosite within an ad, not unlike AOL’s new content-heavy unit. “It definitely plays to our strengths there,” said Figueroa, referring to Associated Content, the content factory Yahoo purchased in May.

AOL’s and Yahoo’s creative focus could be considered a foil to Google’s approach in its fight to grow its display ad business. The company’s “Watch This Space” campaign is more about standard display units and ad targeting capabilities than rich creative experiences.

During an Advertising Week presentation yesterday, Blake Irving, Yahoo’s chief products officer, and Figueroa demonstrated new mobile applications with implications for advertisers. The mobile app taps a person’s interest – and integrates related information based on location. For example, if someone is a Broadway theater fan and is visiting New York City, the application would pull in information such as theater listings, play reviews written by friends, or restaurant recommendations. A website visitor would also be able to buy theater tickets from the application.

“It’s an engaging experience. If you click, it’s not going to take you to another website,” Figueroa said.

Irving and Figueroa also demonstrated a widget that lets someone watch a golf tournament and decide, for instance, what stats or view of the golf course to see. The widget, in the demo, featured the logo of Callaway Golf, an equipment maker.

Anna Maria Virzi contributed to this story.

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