Dear Yahoo, I Redesigned Your Website (And Took Out 512,240 Pixels Of Banner Ads)

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Facebooking While Rome Burns

Dear Yahoo!,

I’ve redesigned your website (five sites, actually) and I’d like to get your opinion.

Across five properties — Homepage, Screen, OMG, Flickr, Music — I’ve removed 4 square banner ads, 2 wide rectangles, 2 text ads, and an interruptive preroll. I’ve replaced those traditional ads with content-based ads that are entirely native to each site’s user experience — promoted videos, promoted playlists, promoted trends, promoted images, and promoted articles.

The kicker? I’m confident you could pull this off without having an impact on long term advertising revenue.

Y! Homepage: See the redesign

Y! Screen: See the redesign

Y! OMG: See the redesign

Flickr: See the redesign

Y! Music: See the redesign

Here’s what I removed (and no offense intended to the advertisers below):

* That’s 512,240 pixels of traditional display advertising, if anyone’s counting.

And here’s what I added:

Your Silicon Valley counterparts have entirely changed the ad game, starting from the ground up with design decisions built around the user experience and the product, not beholden to traditional “boxes and banners” economy. From Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, to Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, to YouTube’s Promoted Videos, the new platforms of record are changing the rules of the ad game, saying “no” to traditional ads – and are already driving $10B+ in “native ad” revenue.

In fact, Marissa Mayer was part of arguably the most successful native ad strategy of all time — Google’s promoted search ads.

So here’s my suggestion:

You have the opportunity at Yahoo to do for content-driven advertising what Google did for search-based advertising – make the ads native to the user experience.

Native search ads don’t try to distract you from what you came to Google to do; they actually help you find things (when done well). What if, in the same spirit, Yahoo encouraged advertisers to create and promote quality content (marked as “sponsored” of course) – videos, photos, articles, trends, music – and then allowed this content to compete on fair terms for readers’ attention?

Yahoo’s undeniable strength is content. From Sports to News to Entertainment, Yahoo has far exceeded any other Silicon Valley company’s efforts to build loyal audiences through original content. There could not be a better time for Yahoo to go native with content-driven advertising. Brands are investing unprecedented budgets in their own original content and publishing efforts, and are in deep need of new mediums to promote this branded content in native ways.

Yahoo, as the largest content company on the web, I say take a page from your frenemies, who are driving billions of dollars in native ad revenue.

Google = native ads in SEARCH.

Facebook = native ads in SOCIAL newsfeeds.

Twitter = native ads in the stream of real-time COMMUNICATION.

Yahoo = native advertising for CONTENT.

Your friendly, neighborhood native ad evangelist,

Dan Greenberg
CEO & Founder, Sharethrough

* Inspiration from this post from the ever-awesome Dustin Curtis.

Editor’s note: Dan Greenberg is the founder & CEO of Sharethrough, the native video advertising company. Dan has been honored as an AdAge “Media Maven” and was recently named to the Forbes “30 under 30″ list. You can find him on Twitter at @dgreenberg.