RealTime IT News
The New, More Open Yahoo?
By Nicholas Carlson
June 20, 2007

While speculative reports fly around the Internet about who might buy Yahoo -- Microsoft, Google or News Corp. -- new CEO Jerry Yang and President Susan Decker have a business to run. Their plan is to turn Yahoo from the media company former CEO Terry Semel used to run into a technology company with a platform.

In the next few weeks, Yahoo will launch a new advertising product for advertisers and publishers that shares the lessons Yahoo has learned about user behavior from the roughly 500 million monthly visits to its network of sites, internetnews.com has learned.

According to a Yahoo spokesperson, the new product will, among other things, enable advertisers to create "non-premium," direct response advertising campaigns through "highly targeted" display advertising. The targeting, the spokesperson said, will be based on trends in user behavior that Yahoo has learned to measure by closely watching how its users interact with its network of sites.

Yahoo plans to make this behavioral targeting product available to advertisers that wish to market over Yahoo's network and its publishing partners, including Comcast, eBay and a growing group of newspapers.

There is also thought within Yahoo that it will be able to share its behavioral targeting tools with advertisers and publishers who join its recently acquired Right Media Exchange, though the Federal Trade Commission's ongoing review of the deal limits how much the company can plan for a post-merger future, the Yahoo spokesperson said.

The new behavioral targeting product and the likely decision to offer it to advertisers and publishers who join Yahoo's advertising exchange reflects Yahoo President Susan Decker's vision of the new Yahoo as "the industry's most open, accessible, and vibrant advertising marketplace," as she articulated on a conference call held Monday to announce Yahoo's new executive team.

That vision of Yahoo as open platform is a departure from the company's actual business to this point, when under Semel and his predecessors, Yahoo operated like an online version of its now defunct off-line magazine, with its glossy display advertising targeted at content verticals such as Travel, Consumer Tech and Finance.

For the time being, Yahoo remains a media company, but judging by Decker's rhetoric, the goal is to turn Yahoo back into a technology company one that can profit by helping others profit.

"We are confident that by aligning our interest with the interests of the vast majority of the online advertising market, we will be very well positioned for future success."