How Yahoo Is Doubling Down on Buy-side Offerings, As Told by CRO Elizabeth Herbst-Brady

When Yahoo closed the doors on its SSP, the tech giant decided to go all in on its Buy-side offerings. Guided by its new ownership, the company’s DSP-focus is providing advertisers with a direct path to premium publishers, cookieless solutions, and MFA-free supply.

Remember when Verizon decided to part ways with Yahoo? Well, it was a blessing in disguise. Since Apollo Global Management acquired Yahoo in 2021, the global media and tech company has been up and up. Now, Yahoo is making strategic moves to drive value creation for its customers.

We spoke with Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, CRO of Yahoo, during a break between sessions at Advertising Week NY. Navigating working under new owners can be an adjustment; however, Herbst-Brady refers to the last two years as an amazing journey, starting with the appointment of Jim Lanzone, Yahoo’s CEO.

“Previously, there was Yahoo Finance, Yahoo sports, email, the news ecosystem, ads and subscriptions, which is really the legacy AOL business,” Herbst-Brady explained. “You would think it was just dial-up, but it is way more. He put GMs in place for each of those businesses.”

As CRO at Yahoo, she is the General Manager of the advertising business, which mainly consists of the DSP. She also develops monetization strategies that help elevate the company’s future. In a sea saturated with undifferentiated SSPs, Yahoo decided to shut down its supply-side business earlier this year to focus on the buy-side and provide direct connections to publishers.

Yahoo Advertising: From Four Intermediaries to One

When Apollo Global first acquired Yahoo, the media and tech behemoth had four technology platforms. It all started with their SSP, Gemini (their native platform), their DSP, and their reserved ad server. But today, in 2023, Yahoo is DSP-focused and offers advertisers direct access to their own media properties.

With direct consumer relationships, exclusive 1st-party data partnerships, and premium omnichannel inventory, the Yahoo DSP operates in a space between walled gardens and independent ad tech companies. 

After evaluating their other ad tech platforms, the DSP realized the most success, making it easy to rule out the other three ad tech counterparts. It was really based on the ‘may the best man win’ ideology. 

In February, Yahoo created a transformational partnership with Taboola, which allowed them to shut down their native ad platform, Gemini. Now, Taboola serves as Yahoo’s native platform, and they are fully focusing on their product and engineering resources. As a by-product of this move, Yahoo also exited the SSP and exchange business, further highlighting the difficulties some SSPs have had differentiating themselves and proving their value to publishers.

 Now known simply as Yahoo Advertising, the DSP-focused business is rolling out numerous products and partnerships to offer clients and partners better reach, relevancy, and results. 

Yahoo Backstage: A Direct Path to Premium Publisher Inventory

 In their ad tech reinvention, Yahoo focuses on three main tools to connect the buy side with premium inventory and quality audiences. For starters, they rolled out Yahoo Backstage, an exclusive offering accessible solely through Yahoo’s DSP. It provides:

  • A direct avenue to curated premium publisher inventory
  • Transparency and optimization within the supply path
  • Maximized media spend and ROI for advertisers

Setting it apart from other Supply Path Optimization (SPO) solutions in the market, Yahoo Backstage capitalizes on the robust publisher relationships established by Yahoo over the years through its now-retired SSP.

That noteworthy roster of premium publishers includes Yahoo’s owned and operated properties and over 100 others, including A+E Networks, Dotdash Meredith, Newsweek, Raptive, The Arena Group, and VIZIO. Almost 40 of these are Connected TV (CTV) publishers, making it the most extensive representation of direct CTV supply currently available. Seamless expansion of CTV inventory into Yahoo Backstage is facilitated through integrations with industry leaders like FreeWheel, Magnite’s SpringServe, and Publica by IAS.

“We have something called the cross-platform planner, which allows you to understand incremental reach, meaning when you’re looking at something on your phone from some advertiser and then watching something on television, or maybe you’re looking at something on your computer and when you see the same ad over and over and over again like that’s super annoying, right?,” Herbst-Brady explained. “For the DSP, our job is to make sure that brands understand the audience they are reaching.”

With the ad tech hot topic du jour being wasted advertiser spend on MFA sites, it’s worth noting that Jounce Media credits Yahoo Backstage as the largest source of MFA-free supply in the open Web. 

What about ID Solutions?

Like the rest of the digital media and ad tech industry, Yahoo is dedicated to solving the identity and addressability issues that will result from the cookiepocolypse. Yahoo has some pretty extensive identity solutions that can help advertisers connect with their intended audiences. 

Yahoo ConnectID, their addressable identity solution relies on known, logged-in users, and Next-Gen Solutions, designed to address non-addressable audiences at scale across targeting, buying, and measurement. The major tech company also recently unveiled strategic partnerships with LiveRamp and Twilio Segment to further enhance advertisers’ reach.

Yahoo’s Connected ID Partnerships

LiveRamp: Yahoo recently announced a significant partnership between its ConnectID and LiveRamp to broaden the reach of their cookieless identity solution and enhance addressability within the advertising ecosystem. Publishers utilizing LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) will now have the opportunity to harness the benefits of Yahoo ConnectID. This collaboration enables Yahoo to tap into additional addressable demand within the Yahoo DSP, catering to the evolving dynamics of the cookieless world.

Brands utilizing Yahoo’s DSP stand to gain increased reach through Yahoo ConnectID, now enriched with expanded scale from LiveRamp’s ATS. This strategic alliance emphasizes a concerted effort to empower publishers and advertisers with enhanced tools and capabilities, which is essential for an evolving ecosystem.

Twilio: Yahoo ConnectID is now directly integrated with Twilio Segment customer data platform, which helps advertisers future-proof their business while activating first-party data across screens in a cookieless world. Twilio Segment users can now seamlessly synchronize hashed, cookieless data with their real-time customer profiles, allowing them to enhance the reach and relevance of their campaigns.

Integrating Yahoo ConnectID with Twilio Segment ensures greater relevance and reach for advertising campaigns and emphasizes the importance of precise measurement in gauging campaign success. Advertisers now have the means to confidently navigate the cookieless world, leveraging the combined strengths of Yahoo ConnectID and Twilio Segment for more impactful and targeted advertising efforts.

Should Other DSPs Take Notes From Yahoo?

Yahoo has been resolute in its pursuit of value creation for marketers. The decision to streamline operations and exit the SSP and exchange business reflects a keen awareness of monetization dynamics and a commitment to delivering meaningful value to advertisers and publishers alike.