Yahoo Banks on Its Data With Genome Audience Platform

First-party data trumps third party, says panel

Headlining Scott Thompson's legacy at Yahoo will probably be the swirl of events that led to his departure after only four months as CEO (though his resume may say otherwise). But, based on his two quarterly earnings calls with investors, Thompson aimed to stake his legacy on leveraging Yahoo's data. And it appears as though the company plans to carry out those plans.

On Monday the company announced its Genome audience buying platform. Speaking at a company event that kicked off Internet Week in New York, Yahoo's evp of Americas Rich Riley said the platform stems from the display advertising partnership Yahoo entered with AOL and Microsoft last year, as well as the company's acquisition of data-crunching ad tech firm Interclick, which closed in December.

Genome won't go live until July, but it seems to function like most platforms that dig through data to sift out audience profiles. Except Genome has access to Yahoo's first-party data, such as account registrations, search queries and interests inferred through behavioral tracking.

The platform also factors in an advertiser's own data and third-party data from 25 outside sources, but Yahoo's positioning its own data as a primary selling point (that data was something Thompson frequently emphasized during his short CEO tour). And based on the Internet Week panel following Yahoo's announcement, that's the angle Yahoo should be taking. For the panel lingering on the topic of data quality, the consensus seemed to be that a lot of the data cycling through the LUMAscape chart is weak.

Not all of it, of course, but enough for Tim Suther, chief marketing and strategy officer at marketing services provider Acxiom, to say that "data quality often gets short shrift." Sean Muzzy from Neo@Ogilvy said third-party data "might be good [for] framing audience profiles" but that it "might be the least important variable" when it comes to actually buying media.

Michele Morelli, an svp of at Citibank, added that the company doesn't buy third-party data because the benefits don't outweigh the costs. "It's more expensive to buy third-party data and do an overlay," she said, than to buy media through a demand-side platform or ad network, which can factor in third-party data that Citibank already has access to.