Yahoo Readies Its Advertising Arm for Election Season

Cox Digital Solutions, CampaignGrid partner with Yahoo for election ads

For the past few months, Yahoo has been ramping up its 2012 election coverage, with a new Web show Remake America, new blog “The Signal” and new ABC News partnership. Now, it’s making sure that its advertising arm is equally ready for the campaign season ahead.

In an announcement today, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company disclosed that it was naming Cox Digital Solutions the exclusive national seller of political, issue and advocacy advertising across Yahoo properties for the upcoming election year.  Cox, which enables advertisers to target people in specific congressional districts, will be selling Yahoo inventory as part of its total portfolio. Yahoo also told Adweek that it would be partnering with online ad platform CampaignGrid to help candidates and other advertisers finely target consumers around key election topics.

“The election is one of our 2012 major tent pole events,” Wayne Powers, Yahoo’s svp of North America Sales, told Adweek. “It’s going to be a real area of opportunity and a real area of focus.”

Powers said Cox will focus on campaign dollars specific to issues, such as jobs and healthcare, while Yahoo’s field sales team will work with core advertisers who want to associate their messages with the most engaging and high-traffic election issues.

Echoing recent comments made by Yahoo’s incoming CEO Scott Thompson about how data will drive the company’s turnaround, Powers said that technology and data will play a big role in the company’s multiplatform political advertising capabilities.

In addition to the 80 million monthly unique visitors to Yahoo’s news channel, Powers said Yahoo has identified 100 million unique visitors with political interests around specific election-related topics. The company says its entire universe of Web properties attracts 149 million unique users a month, including 90 percent of the nation’s online voting-age adults.

By partnering with CampaignGrid, which has a database of 187 million registered voters, he said Yahoo will be able to help advertisers reach consumers in targeted geographical areas interested in topics like healthcare, jobs and the economy.

“We can give the candidates and the advertisers the ability to tightly define and zero in on specific topics,” he said.

According to a survey this month from Strata, which provides software for media buyers and sellers, spending on digital political advertising has increased 100 percent since the 2010 midterm elections. The company also said that political campaigns are increasingly merging traditional and digital buys, with one-third of the respondents indicating that this includes 75 percent of their clients.

But, it seems that mobile advertising has not yet gained traction this year. According to Strata, 85 percent of survey respondents said that less than 25 percent of political clients are using mobile to reach voters.