Yahoo’s Programmatic Presence: Can It Make a Dent in the Industry?

Yahoo has had a big year. In January it announced the U.K. launch of Yahoo Ad Manager (YAM+), its all-singing, all-dancing programmatic display and analytics tool. While the jury is still out as to whether Yahoo can compete with the major players in the programmatic space, there’s no doubt it has invested heavily and is planning to make a dent in the still up-and-coming market.

What Is Yahoo Doing Well?

Firstly, Yahoo has an incredible pool of first-party data and premium content. Its user base for Yahoo mail alone covers millions worldwide and its content reach is massive, particularly in North America and the U.K.

Yahoo recently revamped Right Media ad exchange and is replacing it with Yahoo Ad Exchange (YAX) for chosen partners. This improved exchange offers advertisers more access to Yahoo’s content and aligns with some of the major demand-side platforms (DSPs) like DoubleClick Bid Manager. This offering means advertisers can run on YAX as well as set up private marketplace deals using Yahoo’s premium first-party data on YAX inventory. The only drawback for advertisers is Yahoo has (cunningly) only allowed its first-party audiences to be targeted on the YAX exchange rather than all exchanges (more on that in a bit!).

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In addition to first-party PMPs, advertisers with a YAX seat can also set up clever search retargeting and mail insights campaigns which allow access to extremely niche and specific pools of Yahoo users.

How Can Yahoo Improve?

It won’t be an easy task for Yahoo to make its mark on the programmatic industry, especially outside the U.S. where they often have a smaller market share. The key area for improvement is to continue to allow its products to integrate with existing solutions.

Many agencies and advertisers who are invested in the programmatic space are already committed to specific tools, and want any other solutions to tie in nicely with the tracking, reporting, and analytics tools they’re already using. Convincing users to invest in another separate platform like Yahoo Ad Manager is a big change. YAX and Yahoo’s private marketplace integration have helped with this. If its first-party audiences are indeed as good as it claims they are, the jump to YAM+ to use those audiences across multiple exchanges won’t be such a huge ask.

2014 has been a huge year for Yahoo and programmatic, and I’m sure they have big plans in place to conquer the industry in 2015.

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