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Yahoo Launches Personalized SmartAds System

Yahoo said that, in tests, SmartAds resulted in click-through rates that were two to three times higher than similarly placed, untargeted display ads.

In the wake of a major executive shake-up that included the recent resignation of CEO Terry Semel, Yahoo Monday introduced new online advertising technology to help it regain ground against Google.

Yahoo SmartAds is a dynamic ad-assembly platform that lets advertisers deliver display ads that have been personalized in real time using demographic and behavioral data. Display ads, long an area of strength for Yahoo, emphasize brands and logos; keyword search ads rely on text to get users to click on them.

"Yahoo's SmartAds gives marketers what they want from online advertising: the ability to deliver customized marketing messages to consumers and still engage very large audiences with their brand," said Todd Teresi, Yahoo's senior VP of display marketplaces, in a statement. "By enabling marketers to reach consumers on a more tailored basis and helping creative agencies support those customized campaigns, we can provide an even more engaging, relevant online experience to the more than 500 million users of Yahoo branded products and services."

As an example, Yahoo SmartAds might note that a Yahoo user browsing Yahoo Autos for hybrid cars had entered a San Francisco ZIP code in Yahoo Weather. Yahoo's ad platform would then create a display ad on the fly to feature a hybrid from an advertising automaker that includes local dealer information, current prices, and lease rates.

Yahoo plans to roll out SmartAds in phases. Initially, it is making the service available across its online properties to U.S.-based travel industry advertisers. According to a company spokesperson, Yahoo aims to add three or four additional market segments by year's end. The company also aims to make SmartAds available off-network, on the sites of partners such as eBay, Comcast, and Web properties served by RightMedia's ad network, once Yahoo's acquisition of RightMedia closes.

In tests, Yahoo said SmartAds resulted in click-through rates that were two to three times higher than similarly placed, untargeted display ads.

A key advantage of SmartAds for advertisers will be the ability to dynamically generate hundreds or thousands of different variants of a given ad using the same set of graphic and data elements.

One of Google's stated reasons for purchasing of online ad company DoubleClick is to improve its ability to deliver targeted display ads.

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