Yahoo Adds Mobile Native Audience Targeting, Apps Create Digital DNA

Yahoo has released a feature in Gemini allowing advertisers to target native and search mobile ads based on app activity on the smartphone built into audience groups.

The Personas exist as part of Flurry, which tracks analytics within apps, such as use, audience and retention. Yahoo integrated the technology into Gemini as part of the Flurry acquisition. It relies on more than 40 Flurry "Personas" -- behavioral audience groups based on the type of applications a smartphone user has on their phone.

The Personas, such as "Business Travelers" and "Social Influencers," are based on aggregate data from Flurry Analytics and used to reach specific mobile audiences through Yahoo Gemini.

Millions of monthly searches now begin in smartphone apps rather than a search engine. The app developer can "tag" custom behavior such as searches in the applications to better target consumers within the application and across the Web.

Flurry tracks about 650,000 apps like Shazm, and Gilt Group, as well as Etsy and Pinterest. The terms and conditions of the brand application, set-up by the developer, gives Yahoo permission to use anatomized data aggregate.

"If a developer uses tags to track when someone searches for shoes in their app, they can create a custom targeting feature," said Jarah Euston, vice president, analytics and marketing at Flurry. "Flurry Analytics is really focused on aggregate data, and not searches inside the application."

U.S. smartphone users spend 88% of their time in apps, per Yahoo. The unique combination of apps a person has on their phone is like their digital DNA. Peter Smith, vice president of digital mobile and social GMR Marketing, said developers and brands likely have terms and conditions in the app that lets them share the data in aggregate with Flurry.

Yahoo sees one in four emails sent, search intent data and apps data, to name a few. "We're thinking about new ways to leverage it," Euston admits.

Aaron Goldman, Kenshoo CMO, said Flurry Personas presents a new frontier in ad targeting. "Understanding what apps people use can become a great barometer for their interests and help inform more precise advertising," he said.

Much of Yahoo's mobile revenue comes from search ads. Last year, the company held 5.1% of the $8.72 billion U.S. mobile search market, compared with Google's 68%, according to eMarketer. This year, the research firm expects mobile search to surpass desktop search for the first time, growing to $12.85 billion vs. $12.82 billion, respectively.

Yahoo took 1.8% of the $42.6 billion worldwide mobile advertising market in 2014, about 3.3% or $19.2 billion of it from the U.S., according to eMarketer. Global mobile advertising should increase 61.1% this year to $68.7 billion, rising to $100 billion by 2016. U.S. mobile advertising should reach $28.72 billion this year.

Yahoo tested the feature with a handful of global consumer product goods (CPG) companies. Using Flurry Personas to target mobile campaigns created lift from 5 to 12 points for major brand KPIs. Applying Flurry Personas caused a 14 point lift in unaided brand awareness, a five point lift in purchase intent and a 12 point lift in brand usage compared to regular mobile campaigns.

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