Initially called “Apex” then “AMP,” Yahoo’s (NSDQ: YHOO) long-awaited ad sales and targeting system got its unveiling finally in the middle of New York’s Advertising Week. Held on the lower level of the NYTCo’s (NYSE: NYT) Times Center building, the company opened things up saying that this announcement was “a seminal event” and a “tranformative development” in online advertising.
Seeking to tie the new product to the time when TV went from black and white to color, Jon Hamm, who plays “Don Draper” on AMC’s Mad Men, was picked to emcee the event. Noting the contrasts between the 1960s where his character lives — a time when there were three major TV networks that had a hold on an unfragmented 87 percent of the audience and a city could support several daily newspapers — and today, Hamm said, that while times have certainly changed, “If Don Draper were standing before you today, he would still be smoking and drinking. But he’d recognize that what my friend Jerry Yang is about to share with you will rock the media world in the way that radio and TV did.”
— The world of tomorrow, today: Yang: “Jon Hamm took you back 40 years. I’m going to take you back to about 18 months ago.” He reviewed the launch of Panama — which was also much heralded at the time as a potential big revenue booster. A few months later erstwhile CEO Terry Semel was pleading for shareholders to give the system more time. Today, Yang positioned Panama only as a step: “Panama led us to the next platform, code named ‘Nirvana.’ We pulled together Yahoo’s best and brightest in 2007. We put ourselves in the shoes of the people we were designing for: advertisers, designers, publishers. One of the key moves we made was the investment in ad exchange Right Media. The subsequent acquisition of Right Media is a core part of the new system we’re launching today. We asked partners in the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium. They said it was taking too long to find advertisers and connect them to their audience. Initially called Apex, them AMP, we promised to deliver in the Q3. The Yahoo Newspaper Consortium will receive it first, then early next year, it will be widely available to advertisers, ad agencies and ad networks.”
— No more faxing: Sue Decker, Yahoo’s president, was next up to describe why “APT is apt.” Decker: The current ad delivery system is broken. Even for online advertising, it takes 30 steps — including still having to fax invoices — and multiple requests for proposals that can take up to six weeks. APT offers a simplified workflow process. This new platform will deliver business results and provide a whole new level of control. More after the jump.
— Saving newspapers?: Dean Singleton, CEO of MediaNews Group, whose paper the San Jose Mercury News, has been one of the first testers, offered his early take on how APT has been working. “APT presents a sea change in how newspapers make money online — which is part of a market that is expected to reach $23 billion over the next four years. When we conceived if the idea of the newspaper consortium on a yellow pad several years ago, it took Yahoo to make it a reality. In addition to having built the advertising infrastructure, Yahoo will help us improve how we sell and what we sell. As part of APT, we can bundle our inventory nationally and in a more targeted way. Today, newspapers are focused on selling sites and sections generally. With APT, we can be more specific. We expect to 22 percent from online newspapers, in five years, we expect it to be 50 percent. The newspaper industry’s future is at stake. But I am extremely excited about the future of our industry, with much credit to what Yahoo has done.”
— Better targeting, higher prices: During the Q&A, Singleton added: “We sell a lot of advertising at low rates. We can charge higher rates if we can target better. If we could charge normal rates for our advertising, you wouldn’t be hearing about the woes of the newspaper industry. The reason that online newspaper revenues don’t make up the losses on the print side is because we’re selling cheaper remnant ad space.“