Yahoo Rolls Out AMP

Yahoo on Monday formally announced its one-stop-shop advertising platform aimed at streamlining the process of buying and selling online ads across digital formats.

Called AMP from Yahoo, the system will give advertisers a single Web-based dashboard for placing ads across search, display, local, mobile and other categories. At the same time, Web publishers will be able to sell inventory not only on their own sites and on Yahoo, but also those of other sites in Yahoo's content network.

AMP will also provide a set of tools allowing advertisers to target campaigns based on geography, demographic criteria and online behavior, Yahoo said.

Ad networks also would benefit by using the system to broaden the scope of advertisers with which they could connect their publishers.

The new ad platform will roll out in stages, starting in the third quarter with the consortium of 600 U.S. newspapers Yahoo formed in 2006 to cross-sell advertising with newspaper sites. AMP will be extended to other publishers, advertisers and agencies during the remainder of 2008 and 2009.

Yahoo already previewed AMP at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Ecosystem 2.0 conference in February. Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and President Sue Decker said the system, then code-named "Apex," promised to "revolutionize" Internet advertising by reducing friction in the ad process to improve yield for publishers.

Yahoo has since also said the new ad platform would help the company surpass growth for online display advertising over the next three years. In that sense, AMP is intended to complement Project Panama, Yahoo's upgraded search marketing platform unveiled last year.

The move comes as Yahoo is trying to fend off an unsolicited takeover bid by Microsoft. It has cited AMP and other company initiatives to argue that Microsoft's $31-a-share bid substantially undervalues the company.

Both companies are seeking to accelerate digital ad revenue to offset Google's dominance in search and expansion into display advertising through its recently completed acquisition of DoubleClick. AOL too has ramped up efforts to transform itself into a digital advertising powerhouse through its focus on Platform A, its ad unit encompassing, Tacoda, Third Screen Media and LightningCast, among other ad-related properties.

In AMP, Yahoo has the potential to have a major impact on Web advertising, especially for smaller marketers and publishers, according to industry executives. "From what I've seen, it does look like a step forward in removing friction and adding transparency to local Internet advertising," said Scott Symonds, executive media director, AKQA.

He noted that the automated, self-service approach is especially geared to long-tail advertisers rather than agencies, which typically handle campaigns for major brand marketers.

Mike Leo--CEO of Operative, an ad technology firm that works with publishers and agencies--agreed that AMP could boost online ad efficiency if it works as billed.

He said it could be especially difficult to persuade publishers, for instance, to sell each other's ad space when they run out of their own premium inventory. "There's no doubt in my mind it's a great idea, but adoption is always a risk and execution is always a risk," Leo said. "And whatever Yahoo releases to begin will be only a shadow of what the platform will be in two years."

Yahoo's newspaper partners will be the first to fully utilize the system this summer. Jay Smith, president of Cox Newspapers, called AMP "a turning point for our industry," in a statement issued Monday.

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