Yahoo! Tries to Get Smart

By Bartley McGowan | Jul 3, 2007
More Articles by Bartley

Yesterday Yahoo! announced a new type of advertising they are planning on rolling out over the next few months called Yahoo! SmartAds. The program is slated to be their first foray into what marketers call behavioral targeting. What that basically means is advertising that can be more precisely targeted to the people who are viewing the page at that very moment.

Now, this won’t be available for the standard search ads just yet or for some time most likely. It looks like the first companies to try this out will be a couple airline companies on the Yahoo! travel sites. I have not seen any screen shots of examples of this, so I don’t believe it has even launched yet. Later down the line they are planning on offering it to some automobile companies and other retailers, but it doesn’t appear this will be something most of us will be able to do through Yahoo! Search Marketing the way MSN allows us to with their ad targeting for now.

I read about it from this NY Times article which goes into more detail than some of the search engine sites I routinely check for news. The way it will work is like this: advertisers will give Yahoo! all the material for the ads such as logos, text, etc. According to this article there will be different sets of ads for different demographic groups and based on who Yahoo! says is viewing the page the proper ad will show up for them.

Todd Teresi, senior vice president of display marketplaces at Yahoo! explained it like this:

“We’re doing real-time creative assembly that leverages what we know about our audience. You can buy the entire Wall Street Journal site, and when a female shows up, we will create a different ad or when someone from New York shows up, another one.”

I think all this sounds great, but if my understanding on this is correct, Yahoo! is only going to have this kind of information on their users who have signed up for their email or other services and then happen to be on their portal pages, which I have to imagine is a small percentage of the people that are looking at things on Yahoo! It may be a step in the right direction for Yahoo!, but if Google has already gone live with their personalized search, I don’t see how this is really going to do much to help Yahoo! ever catch up to Google as the article I linked to in the Times suggests it might.

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