Under the stewardship of new CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo is launching a new contextual advertising network — similar to Google’s AdSense and the Yahoo Publisher Network it abandoned in 2010. This time, the company is partnering with Search Alliance ally Bing, and technology provider Media.net.
The idea, apparently, is to bulk up the amount of contextual advertising inventory Yahoo and Bing can make available to advertisers. The mainly-text contextual ads are already displaying on some Yahoo sites, and those marketers who have opted into display ads on Bing Advertising will automatically have their ads shown on the new network.
Publishers use the Media.net self-service platform to create and customize the text ad units to match their site’s look and feel. In the first quarter of next year, publishers will be able to add image (display) ads. Inventory will come from the Yahoo RightMedia exchange and other major display ad exchanges.
Interestingly, though advertisers nor publishers can specify or upload images for the ads, the Media.net ad serving system can automatically display what it sees as relevant images (see below) in conjunction with the text. Both the advertiser and publisher have the ability to opt-out or suggest changes to images, but their appearance is driven by relevance and optimization rather than any advertiser or publisher action.
“This [including relevant images] can help increase the engagement with the ads – thus achieving better ROI for both the advertiser and the publisher,” Divyank Turakhia, CEO of Media.net, told me.
Under the partnership, Media.net will be responsible for publisher relationships, the platform that publishers use to manage their accounts, and the targeting technology. Yahoo will manage technology as it relates to advertisers, as well as advertiser relationships. Bing Ads will syndicate ads from smaller advertisers across the network.
Currently, the program is limited to publishers that receive the majority of their traffic from the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. Only publishers large enough to earn more than $100/month in ad revenues will be included. The network will be looking for “premium content” where users engage with advertising at a high rate. Mobile-optimized ads can be displayed for site visitors using their mobile devices to access the content.
Publishers can sign up now to express interest in participating, but Media.net will not begin reaching out to potential publishers until October 15. Since each site will be reviewed for suitability, the company says it will only be able to issue a limited number of accounts daily.
It’s interesting that, under new CEO Mayer, Yahoo is effectively choosing to re-open a business unit that it shut down in 2010, citing the need for prioritization. Running the new network as a partnership, however, lessens the development and publisher relationship management burden that falls upon Yahoo.