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Yahoo AMPs Up Advertising Management

Yahoo AMP Platform
Source: Reuters

Pressing on in the shadow of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) acquisition bid, Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced plans to launch a new advertising management platform (AMP) to automate and simplify the process of buying and selling ads online.

With AMP, the Web portal says it will offer an elegant linkup between buyers and sellers, automating manual processes to better serve advertisers, agencies and ad networks and the publishers it counts as partners.

This new platform comes at a time when Yahoo is locked in fierce competition with other Web powerhouses such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft and AOL -- a division of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX).

Despite the proliferation of companies and technologies whose entire mission is to manage the various mechanisms involved in online advertising, Yahoo maintains that the process is still surprisingly inefficient.

"We didn't just want to build a better ad server -- we wanted to build a better ad server and business management system," Mike Walrath, Yahoo's senior vice president of advertising marketplaces, told InternetNews.com. "This project is larger in scope and ambition than Panama [the last major upgrade to Yahoo's ad platform]. We're very excited about this."

Yahoo will introduce AMP, formerly code-named Project Apex, in phases, beginning in the third quarter when it goes live to members of Yahoo's Newspaper Consortium, which the portal formed in 2006 to extend Yahoo's ad-serving and search technologies to newspapers' Web sites.

It will then expand to other sites, with the ultimate aim of positioning Yahoo as a nexus of the online advertising world.

"All the portals are developing ad networks to sell ad pages beyond their sites," David Hallerman, an analyst with eMarketer, told InternetNews.com. Hallerman added that portals now see the need to "expand beyond this massive audience in a centralized place."

Hallerman pointed to the string of recent acquisitions through which the major Web companies have been gobbling up smaller players to round out their suite of advertising offerings. These additions make the major Web firms more attractive to content publishers and advertisers alike, he said.

Walrath is quick to point out that AMP is not an ad network per se but rather a technological offering that will be available to all publishers, regardless of whether they have an existing relationship with Yahoo. Of course, new content partners would be a welcome by-product of the service, he added.

The main focus at first will be display inventory, but Walrath said he expects that it would eventually be used to manage video, search, mobile and even offline placements.

In a video previewing the service, Yahoo described the existing online ad economy as "byzantine" and "full of inefficient processes and cumbersome legacy solutions."

Yahoo said that publishers will be able to manage their internal ad networks through AMP and use it to augment or even replace their ad management systems.

For advertisers, Yahoo said its new platform will offer the ability to zero in on consumers within precise demographics, geographic areas and behavioral patterns. Yahoo promises a "new blend of control and simplicity" in targeting ads online.

From the agency perspective, Yahoo anticipates that AMP will give media buyers access to a broader range of ad inventory without compelling them to abandon the desktop tools they currently use to navigate the media landscape.

Finally, ad networks will have the ability to tap into what Yahoo describes as a transparent marketplace, gaining easy access to troves of premium and nonpremium inventory on Yahoo's pages and beyond. Further, Yahoo will offer networks a set of open APIs to build customizable applications on top of the AMP environment.