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Yahoo can buy itself back into the display market

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Tim Peterson, reporter, Direct Marketing News
Tim Peterson, reporter, Direct Marketing News
"It's just too early for me to have any informed opinion as to the display [advertising] space and what's going to be happening there," new Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson said during a conference call last Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. As if to underscore the point, Thompson told Advertising Age that same day that it was "premature" to discuss how he'll shore up Yahoo's display ad business.

I don't begrudge Thompson deflecting questions about Yahoo's display advertising prospects (even though he must have brainstormed his options considering talks with Yahoo began in November). But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a little fun and project some possibilities. Let's have at it.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Thompson said he expects to grow the company through acquisition "if it is appropriate." One acquisition I wouldn't be surprised to see Yahoo make? A demand side platform (DSP). I've heard from sources as recently as November to expect seeing a DSP get snatched up by someone like Adobe this year. Given that talk and Yahoo's decision to limit DSPs' access to inventory on its Right Media Exchange, I'll be interested to hear more in the coming months.

If I've learned anything from my recent coverage of PayPal, it is that the company believes marketers, particularly retailers, are seeking an end-to-end offering. Acquiring a major DSP would be like the Miami Heat picking up the cerebral veteran Shane Battier in the NBA offseason; it's a smart addition that will only serve to inform Yahoo's other offerings.

The New York Times cited analysts who expect that Thompson will mine Yahoo's consumer data collection for advertising opportunities. That's interesting to note when processed with Thompson's Visa pedigree. Paired with his PayPal experience perhaps Thompson will explore bringing e-commerce to desktop and mobile display ads as well as further integrating it into search. Yahoo will need something to plug its search business's advertising revenue hole that has seen double-digit year-over-year declines for the past four quarters.

And while I'm thinking up Yahoo's options, it's also not hard to imagine how Yahoo could port the e-commerce technology to its audio-recognition app IntoNow, something that would no doubt entice ROI-hungry TV advertisers.
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