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Jun 5, 2008

Yahoo Strikes Deals with CBS, Wal-Mart; Unveils Yahoo Circular

Yahoo Goes Announcement Crazy

Strikes deals with CBS, Wal-Mart; Unveils Yahoo Circular 

Yahoo unleashed a blitz of announcements today, coinciding with president Sue Decker's keynote address at the Advertising 2.0 conference in New York. In short, Yahoo has inked advertising deals with CBS, Wal-Mart, and Havas Digital, all while launching Yahoo! Circular, an online retail marketing program inspired by newspaper circulars.

Speaking of newspapers, Yahoo also announced its Newspaper Consortium, a vast partnership with local newspapers, has quadrupled in size in just a year and a half, bringing the total membership to 779 newspapers. 

Decker claimed the display advertising world is on the verge of a "renaissance." Yahoo's renewed focus in this area mirrors recent acquisitions of DoubleClick and aQuantive by Google and Microsoft. 

Speaking of Microsoft, the announcements come just as the date for Yahoo's annual shareholder meeting was set for August 1. Corporate raider Carl Icahn and a slate of new board members are expected to attempt their coup at the meeting, targeting CEO Jerry Yang's job and trying to force a Microsoft acquisition agreement. 

Back to the sweep of announcements. "Yahoo! is helping to accelerate the transformation of how display advertising is both bought and sold," Decker said during her keynote. "First, we are developing the technology, products and platforms that are designed to help advertisers find the right audiences and publishers find the right advertisers. 

"Second, we are partnering with publishers to secure and monetize inventory that advertisers and agencies find desirable. And third, we are partnering with advertisers and agencies to channel demand to the right consumer."   

As part of this plan, Yahoo has pulled Walmart.com on board in a multi-year relationship allowing Yahoo to provide display and video advertising for the retail giant. Wal-Mart also announced this week its foray into the classified advertising space. According to the Yahoo deal, Wal-Mart will use Yahoo's AMP! Advertising management platform to reach Yahoo audiences, and Yahoo will be the exclusive reseller of Wal-Mart's display inventory. 

It is yet unknown if deals such as this will convince board members Yahoo was right to remain independent, or if the company will become that much more attractive to Microsoft. Yesterday, at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, Microsoft's Kevin Johnson revealed the company's renewed focus on the "commercial intent" – or looking to buy – segment of the search populace. 

Along with this announcement, Yahoo boasts of adding CBS programming to Yahoo TV, which, in addition to NBC, Fox, and 15 cable networks, gives Yahoo a 92% reach of the US Web-based TV audience.

"It's all part of our strategy to become the starting point for the most consumers on the Web," said Karin Gilford, Yahoo's Vice President of Entertainment and Lifestyles. 

Also part of that strategy is Havas Digital. Havas has agreed to adopt the Right Media Exchange platform and AMP in a global partnership with Yahoo. "The combined capabilities will allow Havas Digital clients to execute highly segmented media buys on a mass scale," said Don Epperson, chief executive officer of Havas Digital.

AMP, which is due to roll out in the third quarter of 2008, will incorporate members of the Newspaper Consortium. Reaching 779 member newspapers, the partnership includes publishing groups Cox Newspapers, Day Publishing, E.W. Scripps, GateHouse Media, Hearst Newspapers, McClatchy Company, New York Daily News, New York Times Regional Group, Shaw Newspapers, The Times Publishing Company and the Tribune Review Publishing Company, among others—pretty much all of them except for Knight-Ridder and Gannett, it would seem. 

And finally (seems all these announcements at once dilutes the scale of the each announcement), in line with Yahoo's newspaper partnerships, the company unveiled its Circular Program, which allows retailers to distribute newspaper-like circulars across Yahoo's network. The circulars will be powered by Yahoo's ShopLocal program. 

"The largest driver of in-store traffic for retailers has traditionally been the print circular, and the Yahoo! Circular program is designed to enhance that," said Steven Feuling, category development officer for Yahoo!  "Harnessing our deep insight into user interests, Yahoo! can help retailers speak to consumers on a level that is more personal and engaging by putting just the right products and marketing messages in front of an interested shopper at just the right time."

That last part especially sounds like what Kevin Johnson spoke about regarding Microsoft's next moves. Good luck, Jerry. 

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