Chief executive Marissa Mayer acknowledged that Yahoo still had nothing to offer in the hottest category of mobile messaging...
Yahoo doesn’t just want to transform itself into a mobile company. It also wants to get its technology and ads into hundreds of thousands of independent apps, too. The company announced a new suite of tools for mobile app developers, including better analytics and modules that let app makers show ads sold by Yahoo and promote their wares on Yahoo’s 34 sites and apps.
The suite, unveiled in San Francisco at the company’s first developer conference, is Yahoo’s bid to win the hearts of mobile app developers, whose software is the largest growth area in what is fast becoming the dominant way that consumers globally are accessing the Internet. Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, told the roughly 1,000 developers at the conference that the average American smartphone user spent 177 minutes on mobile every day.
At Yahoo, she said, “mobile went from being a hobby within the company, with 50 people working on it, to a quarter of our company.” Elaborating at a news conference later in the day, she said, “This is about taking some of what we’ve learned and making it more broadly available.”
Yahoo’s courtship of developers echoes recent efforts by other leading tech companies, including Twitter and Facebook, which announced their own suites of tools for mobile app developers last year. Playing a starring role in
Yahoo’s strategy is Flurry, a mobile analytics and services company that Yahoo acquired last year.
Flurry’s free analytics services are already embedded in 630,000 apps, giving Yahoo a foot in the door to peddle the other offerings it announced recently, such as Yahoo search results and in-stream ads, which developers can use to bring in revenue from their users.
Yahoo said that developers who include its ads in their apps would keep 60% of the revenue. Simon Khalaf, vice president of Flurry products, said that mobile growth is accelerating globally and becoming a vital part of consumers’ daily lives as well as the economy. The mobile technology industry generated revenues of almost $3.3 trillion worldwide in 2014 and is responsible for 11 million jobs, according to a Boston Consulting Group study cited by Khalaf. So-called phablets —large smartphones that resemble small tablets—are leading the way, he said. “It’s your television, it’s your radio, it’s everything you need in one form factor.”
Yahoo is essentially seeking to build a large network of third-party apps where it can distribute its ads, much as it has done on the desktop web. In addition to so-called native ads, which resemble the content around them, the company is beginning to offer video ads to mobile app developers through its recent acquisition of BrightRoll.
“It’s really a platform that lets you monetize,” said Prashant Fuloria, senior VP of advertising products at Yahoo. The offerings pose a clear challenge to Twitter, Facebook and Google, which are all competing to get their services and ads into the millions of independent apps that are available for smartphones.
Mayer acknowledged that Yahoo still had nothing to offer in the hottest category of mobile—messaging—where Facebook in particular has become a behemoth with its Messenger and WhatsApp services. She said that when Yahoo bought MessageMe and Cooliris last year, it acquired important messaging technology and software developers. “They are doing some interesting experiments as to how we will build out our comms suite,” she said. NYT