Yahoo’s Display Endgame: Combine AMP with Right Media

It can get confusing trying to figure out where one of Yahoo’s ad platforms stops and another begins.

The company’s nearly 800-strong newspaper consortium, its Blue Lithium ad network, and its Yahoo Publisher Network were all launched or acquired to help it be a starting point for digital advertisers, just as it wants to be a starting point for consumers on the Web.

The same is true of its Right Media ad exchange and of AMP, its nascent ad management offering for publishers and advertisers. The difference with those two products is that Yahoo intends them to be media agnostic and freely available to all advertisers and publishers.

Now the company has indicated it may eventually combine the two platforms into a single entity geared toward delivering targeted reach for advertisers and optimizing yield for publishers.

Mike Walrath, co-founder of Right Media and current SVP at Yahoo, recently said the company intends to weave together the two platforms at some future point. He did not elaborate on how that might be done, but indicated Yahoo doesn’t necessarily need to reengineer either system to make it possible.

“There are things we can do to make supply and demand visible without changing the interface,” Walrath said.

Integrating the two systems would make sense given Yahoo’s long-term strategy for AMP, according to Emily Riley, an analyst at Jupiter Media who was briefed on the company’s plans. Riley said Yahoo considers Right Media somewhat of a prototype for what it’s trying to accomplish with AMP.

“What they illustrated to me was that Yahoo is interested in becoming the ideal version of what Right Media originally pitched to publishers,” she said. “When I say the ideal version, what I mean by that is that it really also starts to compete with Atlas and DoubleClick as an ad management platform for both publishers and advertisers.”

Yahoo wouldn’t be the first major Web company to try and fuse an exchange with an ad management platform. Google is attempting the same thing through the acquisition of DoubleClick and its launch of a DoubleClick Ad Exchange. While Yahoo is a late bloomer when it comes to offering ad management tools, it’s ahead of Google in that Right Media’s exchange came to market months before DoubleClick debuted its competing exchange. Also, Yahoo has the edge when it comes to speaking the language of display advertising.

According to Riley, “Yahoo understands the display market. Google doesn’t really. Yahoo’s pretty forward-thinking when it comes to understanding new display technologies.”

Microsoft could also conceivably combine its Atlas ad management unit with its AdECN exchange, acquired a year ago, though it has not signaled plans to do so.

The timeline for any integration of AMP with Right Media is not clear. Yahoo has said it will begin rolling out the AMP ad platform in Q3, and initially it will only be available to the company’s newspaper consortium partners. A deeper integration with Yahoo’s other networks and publisher partners would likely take considerably longer.

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