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More cautious optimism among online ad executives: Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) VP of ad platform strategy Josh Jacobs says he sees “green shoots” in…

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More cautious optimism among online ad executives: Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) VP of ad platform strategy Josh Jacobs says he sees “green shoots” in ad sales. “In the very short term, we are seeing people coming back, we are seeing budgets coming back up,” he told an audience at the Pacific Crest Technology Leadership Forum Monday. “I don’t know if I’d call it out of the recession this quarter but we’re stabilizing and heading in the right direction.”

During Yahoo’s earnings call last month, CEO Carol Bartz also said that the company was “seeing less fear in the marketplace” — but she cautioned it was too early to call a bottom yet.

Considering that Yahoo posted a decline in revenue of 15 percent last quarter — on weak sales of both display and search ads — any uptick will obviously be very welcome.

Other highlights from Jacobs’ remarks:

– The recession has prompted big advertisers to consider moving more of their budgets to the internet, Jacobs said.

– As advertisers start bringing that additional cash to internet properties, Jacobs said Yahoo would be in a position of strength in part because of its ad partnership with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). “We have more money to invest in building the leading audience properties out there,” he said. “We are focusing our company more so than we have ever (done) in leading and dominating key audience verticals.” He also said that by eliminating some low quality ads from its properties, users would consider Yahoo a “premium” environment.

– Jacobs talked up the importance for Yahoo of maintaining access to its search data under its partnership with Microsoft. “We wanted to continue to be able to seed our behavioral models with high quality data,” he said.

– While the amount of content may be proliferating on the internet, Jacobs emphasized that people were also spending more time online — so ad prices were not necessarily falling, especially when Yahoo could offer advanced ad targeting.

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