Yahoo Rich Media Snafu Appears Limited To PointRoll

Following disclosure of a memo sent by PointRoll to advertisers warning of rich media ads being pulled on Yahoo, two other rich media vendors said Tuesday they had not experienced any similar problems involving placements on the Web portal.

DoubleClick and EyeWonder, whose respective platforms account for nearly one-third of rich media ad impressions on Yahoo, said they were not aware of any rich media ads on the site being disabled for any reason.

In an e-mail message sent widely to advertisers and agencies last Friday, PointRoll alerted clients to recent instances where rich media tags had been removed from ads on Yahoo without prior notice. Advertisers were urged to contact their Yahoo sales reps to remind them "of their commitment to servicing your marketing objectives."

Through PointRoll's "Included" program, Yahoo and about 30 other large Web publishers offer PointRoll's rich media ads to marketers at no extra cost when threshold CPM prices are met. The rich media fees are covered by publishers who gain a competitive advantage by not making advertisers pay a separate fee for rich media.

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But Yahoo plans to stop covering fees for third-party rich media placements by the end of May, selling its own in-house rich media offerings instead as a free extra to advertisers. In its Feb. 16 memo, PointRoll suggested that recent confusion about the threshold CPM required for Yahoo to pay for rich media may have led to some rich media tags getting pulled. PointRoll reminded advertisers in its memo that "the stated Yahoo policy is to continue to pay for rich media fees on qualifying placements through May 31, 2007."

Yahoo has declined to comment on the matter.

But PointRoll competitors said they were not aware of any problems with rich media ads getting yanked on Yahoo. "We are not experiencing anything of that sort," said Ari Paparo, vice president of rich media at DoubleClick, whose DART Motif platform was responsible for 24% of the rich media impressions served on Yahoo in January, according to Nielsen//NetRatings' Ad Relevance unit. PointRoll had 67% of rich media impressions on Yahoo.

Paparo said DoubleClick had been notified by Yahoo of its plans to end its practice of covering rich media fees from third-party vendors. He added that the move would not unduly affect DoubleClick, since it has handled rich media placements with Yahoo on both a publisher-paid and advertiser-paid basis.

He noted that large agencies sometimes prefer to pay for rich media placements because it gives them more leverage in negotiating CPM rates on the underlying media buys. "We like to do business however the client wants to do business," said Paparo.

Similarly, EyeWonder CEO and Chairman John Vincent said he wasn't aware of any of its rich media placements running afoul on Yahoo, and was skeptical of PointRoll's warning to clients. "Yahoo doesn't make random decisions to pull an advertising campaign. That's not the way they operate," said Vincent, whose company accounted for 5% of rich media placements on Yahoo last month.

Despite Yahoo's push behind its own rich media platform, Vincent said EyeWonder has been handling an increasing volume of business from the site in recent months. He said the company's pricing and comprehensive rich media offering would allow it to remain competitive with both PointRoll and Yahoo Rich Media. "We message very clearly to customers that agencies can pay us directly or publishers can pay directly, and the pricing is very similar," he said.

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