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4/7/2008
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Yahoo Says AMP Ad Platform Is Coming Soon

The ad system upgrade aims to provide marketers with a unified interface to buy search, display, local, mobile, and video ads across Yahoo's properties and partners.

In the shadow of its battle to resist Microsoft's $44.6 billion acquisition offer, Yahoo on Monday said it would introduce a new advertising management platform called AMP later this year to make it easier for its advertising customers to buy and sell ads online.

The AMP platform aims to provide marketers with a unified interface to buy search, display, local, mobile, and video ads across Yahoo's properties, Yahoo's premium ad partners (AT&T, eBay, and Viacom among them), and the sites of over 600 publishers in the Newspaper Consortium, a strategic alliance of newspaper companies founded by Belo, Hearst, Lee, MediaNews Group, and Scripps.

"While online advertising grows more sophisticated, the process of doing business today is surprisingly cumbersome and manual," said Hilary Schneider, Yahoo's executive VP of global partner solutions, in a statement. "AMP from Yahoo will enable advertisers and publishers to connect with each other and their exact target audiences across the increasingly fragmented Internet, in a way that's not possible with current solutions."

Yahoo's AMP platform is scheduled to be available to its Newspaper Consortium partners in the third quarter of the year and to its other advertising partners after that. Yahoo's last major ad system upgrade, its "Panama" search marketing ranking system, was plagued by delays.

In a research note, IDC research manager Rachel Happe observed that AMP was interesting for three reasons: scale, standardization, and local ad inventory access. She said that while Google's DoubleClick and others have scale and reach, Yahoo's network combines both premium national brands and premium local content.

"The standards wouldn't matter if they weren't aggregating a lot of properties," said Happe in a phone interview. "Yahoo is including some behavioral elements as well. That allows somebody to go in and say I want to buy 50 million impressions across Yahoo, eBay, Comcast, and Viacom. And that's with one transaction."

Happe said it remains to be seen whether Yahoo's standardization of ad targeting criteria and demographic categories will unify the market or further balkanize the industry.

It also remains to be seen whether Microsoft will succeed in buying Yahoo. Happe sees the AMP announcements, and other recent announcements like Yahoo's open search initiative, as a way for Yahoo to support its claim that Microsoft's $31 per share offer undervalues the company.

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