Yahoo!7 flags native ads, digital mags and news digest as growth areas for 2015



The CEO of digital joint venture Yahoo!7 has lifted the lid on his 2015 growth strategy arguing native advertising, digital magazines along with social platform Tumblr and its recently announced News Digest product would be central to its future growth.

In his first in depth interview since starting in the role, Ed Harrison told Mumbrella that while the company’s strong video revenues were still an important and growing part of the business, he was eager to build out its online offering, with a particular focus on native advertising.

“Where a lot of our new interesting revenues are coming from native or so-called ‘in-feed ads’,” Harrison said. “To be clear, there are multiple definitions of native, but we play in that high end bespoke content form of native.”

Harrison explained that on the spectrum of native advertising they are competing in the branded content and content marketing space with the likes of Buzzfeed, MamaMia, Junkee or even his former employer Fairfax, but would also focus on reinventing online display advertising to mirror and be more suited to the context and device.

“It is the streams of content that we are increasingly looking to populate with those (native) ads,” he said. “The way we see it it is about advertisers providing us with their assets, images, text etc., often derived from activities in social media, and then we automate the delivery of that according to the environment that it falls into.”

Yahoo!7 soft launched its native advertising push a couple of months ago and already has 95 clients using its native products, with 135 campaigns running on the site.

Harrison concedes native advertising in its various guises is a buzzword of the moment, but believes the market will grow significantly in the coming years.

He said: “Everyone is a little bit over it (native), but it is important to understand where we sit on native because it is going to be a very real part of the business.

“If you look over at the native market in the US they already have a market worth in the order of $250m.

“That is the scale of the business and that is from a standing start a year to 18 months ago.”

One of the main avenues for this new native push will be an expansion into the digital magazine space, which will see the publisher aggregate online content around a number of key verticals.

“We are looking at bringing digital magazines to Australia,” said Harrison. “When we talk magazines we are not talking magazines brands but magazine verticals. The examples at the moment are food, beauty, tech – those two in particular make an enormous amount of sense – but also style, DIY, music etc.

“Overseas they are really beautiful they are attracting enormous audiences, highly engaged audiences and it is just a new way of delivering content especially content that has a lot of visuals attached.”

In the US parent company Yahoo!, which owns 50 per cent of Yahoo!7, has had success with its new digital magazine push which launched earlier this year.

However, Harrison was clear the initiative would not negatively impact sister company Pacific Magazines, arguing a separate digital product could be made which complemented rather than cannibalised the existing print products.

“The new digital magazines will complement Pacific Magazines very well because you can use that content in here,” he said.

“But it won’t stand alone – we already have a sizeable editorial team that sits across news, sport and now magazines – it will be embedded across the teams because increasingly people are working across all areas not just one area.

“As far as Pacific Magazines go we run their magazines as websites and they do reasonably well, and particularly now we are device responsive we are picking up a lot of the audience.

“I think the nature the content that a lot of what the magazines produce is not on a cycle that lends itself to frequent consumption. That’s why you need to think more broadly about that content.”

Next year the company will also launch the Australian version of its News Digest product, a news service which sends out a news summary twice a day, and also its social media platform Tumblr.

“We are bringing in news digest in the new year. This is about summarising the news and giving a finite amount of content twice a day. Ten stories twice a day,” said Harrison.

“We haven’t landed on a precise launch date, but it will be most likely the first half of next year. ”

On the question of how it will use Tumblr, Harrison was a little more reluctant to share details but said: “We are still forming plans around that understanding how it has played out in the US and the UK.”

“What we do know is a huge number of the world’s top brands are now using Tumblr – they have a Tumblr and they are now spending on Tumblr.”

Nic Christensen 

Read the full interview with Harrison on the strategy and future of Yahoo!7 here. 


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