Yahoo! Acquires Maven Networks

NEW YORK Amidst a furious takeover attempt by Microsoft, Yahoo! continues to be aggressive on the acquisition front. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Web firm has snatched up Maven Networks, an online video technology firm that handles content and ad delivery for companies like CBS Sports, Sony BMG, Hearst and Scripps for $160 million.

The deal should deepen Yahoo!’s relationships with various traditional media companies — from whom it already licenses a significant amount of content, while also providing the portal a more prominent seat at the table in the rapidly emerging online video advertising segment. Though Maven does not sell advertising, it handles everything from ad trafficking to monetization for over 30 partners — a list that also includes Fox News, Gannett and The Financial Times — and has been at the forefront of testing ad formats that go beyond the typical pre-roll unit.

Yahoo! said it intends to have discussions with Maven’s partners about adding ad sales responsibilities to its offerings. In addition, the company is using this occasion to introduce two new video ad formats of its own — both designed to be less intrusive and more relevant than typical pre-rolls. One new placement, dubbed a Clickable ad, marries 30-second TV spots with mouse-over cues that invite users to make a call to action, such as visiting a brand’s Web site. The other new placement consists of a three-second “bumper” video ad that quickly transforms into a persistent banner that appears above a video player.

Clearly, with these moves, Yahoo! intends to expand its footprint in online video advertising space. “Video is projected to be the fastest-growing segment of the online ad market, and Maven will significantly help advance Yahoo!’s strategy, expanding the video opportunity for publishers, and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness for advertisers, said Hilary Schneider, evp, global partner solutions at Yahoo!. “This is a big win for publishers, advertisers, consumers and for Yahoo!.”