NEW YORK Yahoo! executives are not setting low expectations for the company's forthcoming advertising platform, likening its effect on advertising to the advent of color television and introduction of the DVR.
At a press conference to unveil the newly renamed platform, now called Apt, Yahoo!'s top executives promised a sea change in how advertising is bought and sold across thousands of Internet sites. Yahoo! will introduce Apt widely in 2009, with its 784 newspaper partners using the system by the end of this year.
Hillary Schneider, evp, U.S. operations at Yahoo!, described Apt as a "seminal moment in the industry," promising it will be a "transformative development for the advertising and publishing worlds" by allowing advertisers to shift focus from properties to audiences.
At the heart of Apt is the ability for advertisers to easily find their desired audiences on Yahoo! and hundreds of other Web sites. The Internet-based platform is designed to take the headaches out of buying, selling and measuring digital advertising.
Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang said that despite the advances of Web advertising, it has remained mired in outmoded ways of conducting business. Agencies and advertisers spend too much time faxing insertion orders and finding audiences. "The way we do business needs to change," he said. This sentiment was echoed by Sue Decker, Yahoo!'s president, who said Internet advertising's "crummy processes" are hindering its growth.
So far, Apt is in use by two newspaper companies, Hearst Newspapers and MediaNews Group. The system is already increasing the revenue MediaNews receives on remnant inventory while cutting process time by half, according to Dean Singleton, CEO of MediaNews.
"We couldn't have done this alone, but with Yahoo!, we can," he said.
Eric Porres, chief operating officer at Underscore Marketing, said Apt could help make finding targeted audiences easier for agencies, but the advances will mostly be felt on the publisher side, which should get higher rates for remnant inventory. It remains to be seen if Apt will really address agency needs, he said.
"This sounds very publisher driven," he said, "but it's the agencies and advertisers that are the money machines.
Apt is the third moniker Yahoo! has affixed to its platform. When it first unveiled the concept in February, Yahoo! called it Apex. This was switched to AMP in April. AMP is also the name of an ad management system from Collective Media.
Yahoo! added some celebrity buzz to its announcement with actor John Hamm, who plays Don Draper on Mad Men. Hamm said he sees many parallels between the challenges faced by the fictional characters on the show and those real-life advertising people are facing in today's fragmented media world.