Yahoo is buoying its push to be a mobile player with a mobile dev suite, revealed Thursday at the company’s first-ever mobile developer conference – but the products, and Yahoo’s plans, are highly contingent on an important factor.
Will developers see the value in Yahoo’s app-monetization tools?
Flurry’s SDK now includes demand from both Gemini, Yahoo’s native and mobile search marketplace, and from BrightRoll, the video ad platform Yahoo acquired in November for $640 million. Also in the mix is an updated UI for Flurry’s analytics tool, search ads, marketing tools and data-sharing and verification functionality through a partnership with comScore.
In Yahoo’s own words, a core part of its value prop comes from its content recommendation engine Yahoo Recommends, a capability it’s now extending to its ad business. As Prashant Fuloria, Yahoo’s SVP of advertising products, noted, “We treat ads as we treat content,” referencing Yahoo’s redoubled focus on personalization and native.
One developer AdExchanger spoke with was a little skeptical about how relevant the ads would really be, noting that “using data to generate value can be tricky.” The dev leavened the observation by saying he’d be more inclined to work with Yahoo following the acquisitions of Flurry and BrightRoll because “I’d rather be with one partner than with three.”
Another dev was most compelled by the BrightRoll integration. According to research from Cisco Systems, mobile video will represent nearly 70% of all mobile traffic by 2018, a state of affairs that presents developers with both a monetization opportunity and a monetization challenge.
“Everyone, all developers, want to grab a piece of the mobile monetization pie,” said Itamar Rogel, co-founder of Newsfusion, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that builds news apps around niche content areas.
“Google, Facebook, Twitter, now Yahoo – they’re all of them building out mobile stacks,” Rogel told AdExchanger during a conference break. “It’s a race to win third-party developer mindshare. Developers need to monetize and the best way to do it is with ads in a way that users don’t hate that are preferably relevant.”
Rogel said he appreciated that Yahoo tested its products on its own internal apps before releasing them to the wider dev community. For example, the search product housed within Yahoo’s mobile developer suite has also been integrated into several Yahoo apps, including Yahoo News Digest, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo’s main app and Aviate, its Android launcher.
“These are literally the tools that we used internally to scale our business and now we’re syndicating them to you,” Yahoo’s SVP of mobile and emerging products, Adam Cahan, told developers at the conference.
Yahoo's enhancements to its Gemini platform also appealed to Rogel, as did the fact that Yahoo will be offering its analytics tools through Flurry for free, which is one way to get developers in the door. Analytics solutions are often steeply priced.
“They’re not early to the party, but the market needs it,” he said.
It’s also interesting to note that Google hasn’t officially entered the market with a Gemini equivalent, although it does appear to be working on building out some kind of native ad solution. It’s one place where Yahoo could have a head start.
“Google’s presence is underwhelming here," Rogel said. "AdMob doesn’t have a native offering and it feels like Google is stalling. If Google decides to do something like that they’ll probably still have significant market share – they’re Google – but Yahoo could give Google a run for their money. They could be far more equal opponents here than in search.”