Yahoo’s Panama Scores Viacom

Yahoo has landed an exclusive agreement with media giant Viacom to provide sponsored search and contextual ads to all of Viacom’s 33 broadband sites.

The sites, including MTV.com, VH1.com, Nickelodeon.com, Comedy Central and BET.com, will have their ads powered through Yahoo’s Panama ad platform.

While the relationship is specific to contextual text ads, Yahoo isn’t ruling out expanding its relationship to Viacom’s additional 140 Web sites around the world, or to other advertising formats, including banner ads.

“Yahoo has ad products that we deliver to our own sites — both text and banner ads on Yahoo sites, but we are also committed to broadening our other ads to other sites, and Viacom is an example of a distribution deal that we have struck,” said Gaude Paez, director of communications for Yahoo. “It’s for text ads for right now, but we are always looking to expand on our relationship.”

Yahoo’s Panama platform has been well received by brand advertisers, and the company believes it will also satisfy Viacom as a publisher.

Coremetrics expects its “clients to put more ad dollars into the Yahoo platform,” according to John Squire, SVP product strategy, and GM search services for the behavioral analytics search marketing firm. He said the younger demographics of Viacom customers will appeal to his clients.

“The folks that are on those Viacom properties doing search are very different than the sites that are more oriented to older folks. It’s a different search dynamic,” said Squire.

Squire also believes, while the stakes have gotten higher for advertising networks when large publishers become available for bid, Yahoo competitor Google isn’t going to be marginalized any time soon.

“I don’t think that online search is a zero sum game, and at the end of the day competition is great,” he said.

Separate from the Viacom announcement, Yahoo also announced that several online marketing agencies have been certified in the use of its Panama system through its Ambassador program for agencies. The firms to receive the certification include: Ave A Razorfish, Performics, 360i, Carat, iCrossing, NeoSearch, Traffic Leader, Resolution Media, SMG Search and Range Online.

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