While Yahoo's management team may be stinging from shareholders' criticisms in the wake of some questionable vote counting at its board meeting, its lieutenants are preparing the company to combat Google and Microsoft on the online advertising battlefield.
Yahoo in April unveiled its chief weapon for this fight in the form of an all-in-one ad management platform that will eventually let advertisers buy search, display, local, mobile and video ads from one location.
The platform was then called AMP, but Yahoo agreed to cease using the moniker after Collective Intelligence claimed a trademark on it. Yahoo has not revealed the new name.
The platform is a departure from traditional practices by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which sold ads in different buckets based on ad type.
The platform also reinforces advertising as the single greatest cash cow on the Internet, becoming just as valuable, if not more, than other forms of advertising are to e-commerce's brick-and-mortar brethren. Online advertising is the greatest driver of business on the Web.
Mike Walrath, senior vice president of Yahoo's Advertising Marketplaces Group, discussed how the platform will change the online advertising game in an interview with me earlier the week of Aug. 4.
"We want to dramatically simplify the process of buying and selling ads online," said Walrath, who was CEO of Right Media before Yahoo acquired the remainder of the company for $680 million in July 2007.
Walrath said current ad management systems, including Google's DoubleClick DART system and Microsoft's Atlas platform, haven't done much to make the buying and selling of media easier. That was fine in the beginning of the Internet.
Gone are the early days of just offering text and display ads. Walrath noted that in the last 10 years, the market has fragmented into multiple demographics and multiple ad formats, including mobile ads and video ads. Walrath said:
"The key for advertisers is that as their audience fragments, and the consumption shifts to hundreds of thousands of potential sites where audiences are going to be consuming content, it's just not as simple as it once was for advertisers to go out and buy the right audience. "
For example, while advertisers were once clear about which online news publications to target, blogs have clouded the situation, providing another ocean in which consumers can fish for content. Rather than confusing people with separate tools, Yahoo wants to funnel them through a single location.