Posted by: Rob Hof on September 24, 2008
Yahoo just launched its long-awaited display-advertising system, now called APT. As I wrote in a story last week, the system, known more recently as AMP, is Yahoo’s latest (maybe last) best hope for recharging its growth.
But it’s going to take awhile, and it’s not clear CEO and cofounder Jerry Yang has the year or two Yahoo says it will take to roll out the system to all the players, from publishers to advertisers and ad agencies to ad networks. With Yahoo’s stock hovering around $19 a share, about what it was when Microsoft made its unsolicited bid late last January, shareholders are increasingly impatient. With Carl Icahn and two of his cohorts now on Yahoo’s board—and Icahn continuing to call for a linkup with Microsoft—time’s running short. And I don’t think those reports of new talks for Yahoo to acquire AOL are going to result in anything real soon, from what I hear.
For now, Yahoo deserves credit for launching this massive project—bigger than Panama, its search ad platform that was delayed several times—more or less on time. In my story, I had to leave some material on the cutting-room floor, mostly a narrative on how several hundred people at Yahoo managed to get this system out through all the distractions of Microsoft’s onslaught, a management exodus, and Carl Icahn’s assault on the board. Nobody knows whether the system will work as Yahoo hopes, whether it can keep rolling it out on time to more publishers and to advertisers and agencies, or whether advertisers and publishers will adopt it. But for a company that has been repeatedly criticized for an inability to get important services out, it’s a notable, even surprising achievement.
The question now is whether it will matter. Another bit I had to drop from my story sums it up. Ken Doctor, an analyst with the media research and advisory firm Outsell, said the technology behind APT may be the least concern of customers. “The other question is, is Yahoo going to survive as a standalone company?”