Scott Burke, Yahoo’s senior vice president of advertising technology, took the stage during the company’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show to talk about what he said is “a new unified advertising solution.”
Burke ran through the news fairly quickly, but the thrust of it seems to be that consolidating existing ad products while also introducing some new tools. The company’s ad units now fall into four general categories — native, audience, premium, and search.
The names mostly speak for themselves, I think, except perhaps for the new “audience” ads, which the company describes as “a better way to buy ads targeted to specific audiences.” On the native front, Burke noted that Yahoo is also making an addition of sorts by powering Tumblr’s Sponsored Posts.
Earlier in the presentation, Tumblr founder David Karp had talked about those posts, which is its early stages — he noted that even though the actual ads, or the creative tools used to build them, won’t change with the new integration, the underlying infrastructure will, giving Tumblr advertisers access to “a bevy of new technologies.” Karp also claimed that those posts are being reblogged an impressive 10,000 times on average.
Outside of the ad units, Burke said Yahoo is introducing a new Ad Manager, which is supposed to give advertisers direct access to the company’s ad products, regardless of the company’s size. And there’s a new Yahoo Ad Exchange, a marketplace for programmatic ad-buying.
Overall, Burke said the changes represent “the next generation of tools” that will “simplify a highly complex and fragmented market.”
I’m heading off to interview Burke now, so I will update this post with additional comments. In the meantime, you can read more details in the company blog post.
Update: In a follow-up conversation with Burke and Dennis Buchheim, vice president of product management for display advertising, they gave me some more context and details about the changes. Burke suggested that the reason for the revamp is feedback from advertisers who say that the display advertising ecosystem has become “overgrown” and needs to be “consolidated and cleaned up.”
One way that Yahoo is cleaning things up is by bringing everything together under the umbrella of Yahoo Advertising, For example, Burke said that the Yahoo Ad Exchange is an enhancement of what it offered through Right Media, and that the Right Media brand is being “sunsetted.” Similarly, the audience ad product builds on the work that Yahoo was doing through its Genome ad product, which will also be retired.
Burke and Buchheim said there are some themes unifying the changes. One is all the data that’s powering Yahoo’s ads. Another is an increase in self-service options, which you can see in the Ad Manager and the version for large advertisers, Ad Manager Plus. In the past, bigger brands have wanted more of a “managed services” approach (as opposed to self service), but now they’ve “reached a level of experience with digital advertising” where they’re asking to do more on their own.
“This is really the first time we’re making self-serve access to buy premium ads available,” Burke said.
Finally, he predicted that security will be a big theme this year. He noted that Yahoo Mail recently switched over to offering SSL encryption, and he said we’ll see a similar switch in advertising. That’s easier tougher in display ads than search, he said, because of “all the players” involved in serving a display ad.
“You have to get the whole ecosystem to agree to flip, but I think this is the year all the big publishers will have to agree to move,” Burke said.