Yahoo! Preps New Ad-Sales Platform

PHOENIX Yahoo!’s top executives told advertisers gathered here that the company is positioning itself to play an important role in eliminating the headaches of running online ad campaigns.
CEO Jerry Yang and president Sue Decker mostly avoided comments on Microsoft’s unsolicited $44.6 billion bid to buy the company.
“We can’t say a whole lot of the process we’re going through,” Yang told attendees of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Ecosystem 2.0 conference. “We are very focused. We’re taking the proposal Microsoft has submitted to us very seriously.”
Yahoo!’s board of directors has rejected Microsoft’s bid, saying it “massively undervalues” the company. Yang reiterated that point.
“It’s been a galvanizing thing for everybody at Yahoo!,” he said. “I think Yahoo! is a unique asset.”
As a sign of the important role they believe Yahoo! can play in the industry, Yang and Decker previewed an ambitious technology platform the company is developing that is designed to make it easier for buyers and sellers of online advertising. Dubbed Apex — the advertiser-publisher exchange — the system is meant to act as an underlying platform for advertisers to run campaigns that incorporate search, display, video and new formats like mobile.
“We’re trying to revolutionize the online advertising industry,” Decker said. “It’s a lofty goal, but it’s our goal.”
Yahoo! is not alone in its ambitions to build up a large-scale platform to strip complexity out of online advertising. Google, particularly following its acquisition of DoubleClick, has a wide-ranging platform, as does Microsoft through adCenter and AOL with Platform A.
Yahoo! is initiating Apex with its consortium of 500 newspaper publishers. The system will allow the papers to sell inventory not just on their Web sites, but also extend buys to reach similar audiences on Yahoo! sites and elsewhere.
“Yahoo! recognizes that because of the way the Web and advertising has developed it has become very complex and requires a platform underneath it,” Decker said. “That’s the only way we’re going to decrease the friction.”
Decker compared the platform to what the DVR did to advance time-shifted viewing through the VCR. Apex would solve the unsexy but time-consuming ad operations that require up too much time for agencies, she said.
“This new system will be backbone of making life easier, decreasing complexity and redundancy,” she said. “Too much time today is spent on the boring parts of the business.”