Yahoo Living Ads
Norm Johnston, Mindshare, November 2011
Yahoo has followed-up their recent Livestand iPad application launch with a new innovative advertising format called Living Ads. In effect, they are now offering “living ads” to go with their “living magazine”, which aggregates a range of well-known publisher content (news, sports, other interests) into a slick personalized, tablet experience. Livings Ads is great example of Yahoo’s ambitions to deliver both premium ad formats along with their premium content across multiple devices, particularly mobile. Details
It’s hard to capture the “Living Ad” experience without actually experiencing it, which you can do at http://yahoolivingads.com/.
Having seen it firsthand it’s a very powerful, rich if not slightly voyeuristic experience that combines and capitalizes on several emerging trends, particularly online video that emulates real-time video (Hangouts, Skype). Without a doubt when used appropriately it’s a stunning, captivating experience that blends the glossiness of magazine ads with the emotive punch of TV and the historical interactivity of the Internet, thus enabling consumers to not only be enthralled and intrigued by what they see but also to get engaged and take some action. Living Ads are currently only available on Yahoo’s new Livestand application, which is only available in the USA for the moment; Yahoo promises that additional markets will be added in the near future. Initial partners include Toyota and Dreamworks, who have both paid a hefty fee to be part of the launch; expect prices to go down similar to other high-profile launches like Apple’s iAd. Implications
Early research from Yahoo indicates that the new ad formats have a significant impact on consumers. For example, 44% of those individuals who saw the test brand’s Living Ad had a higher opinion of that brand versus 36% who saw a static ad format; it’s a very encouraging statistic that back-ups similar qualitative research on other rich ad formats. Overall it’s a good move by Yahoo to augment their positioning around premium content experiences. Furthermore, it should give brand-builders, particularly FMCG clients, further reassurance that online is a reliable environment to meet their objectives.
However, brands will need to consider a few factors before jumping into Living Ads. First, similar to iAds, it represents another potential production cost to an already strained creative budget feeding unique Facebook formats and countless other new opportunities. Second, Living Ad’s “wow” factor may diminish over time as consumers get used to the experience and competitors introduce similar innovations. Finally, Yahoo will need to work hard to expand Livestand’s limited reach, including market availability to give Living Ad’s a sufficient audience to warrant significant investment. While all are potential obstacles, nearly every other online innovation has faced similar hurdles at the onset. Summary
Livings Ads is another step forward in mashing up and blending the best of all ad formats to create something that in this case has the emotive punch of TV with the interactivity of online. Congratulations to Yahoo for giving the good old rich media unit a much-needed enhancement. Yahoo has a good chance to make the format a success if they are able to build scale and reach while mitigating production costs and maintaining the quality of the ads. Yahoo’s recent back-end engineering evolution should help as they migrate to portable HTML5 content, a unified content distribution system, and weaving the social graph into their ads and content. Well done Yahoo.