By Daniel Hedin, Bloomberg Businessweek Firefly advertising is one of the few ways in which the world’s largest Internet advertising network has managed to thrive in a rapidly changing digital landscape.
The ad platform, which was created by the folks behind the now-defunct Google, was purchased by Yahoo in 2014 and now has about 10 million monthly active users.
The company’s strategy is to focus on a different kind of advertising, a kind that relies more on human interaction, rather than ad placements.
Yahoo has been experimenting with more natural interactions, with the company testing an “app” called Yoon, which uses your phone’s camera to scan a picture of the space around you, and then let you know what the user wants.
Yoon is being tested in a number of cities, but is now testing it in Los Angeles, the company’s first urban location.
The experience isn’t perfect yet, but Yahoo says it’s better than most of its competitors, and has already started to show it in San Francisco, a city where it is now trying to sell its ad-focused apps.
The advertising industry has been struggling to find a way to compete with Facebook and Google, and Yahoo’s experiment could help to help that process along.
Yahoo’s Yoon ad platform is still in beta, but it appears to be a lot like the ones Facebook and Instagram use, where you can see the whole picture at once and click on things to show the results.
Yoo does a good job of mimicking the natural way you’d see a photo, says Andrew Lee, the CEO of ad technology company Pivotal, which specializes in digital ads.
But Yoo isn’t fooling anyone, as the company has been testing Yoon for about a year, says Lee.
“They have the best user experience out there,” he says.
Yoons ads can be quite big.
For example, Yahoo’s current advertising budget is about $10 million per month, which isn’t much compared to the $1 billion the company spends on ad-buying each quarter.
And while Yahoo has more than 20 million daily active users, it’s not that big of a company by traditional metrics.
Yahoo is still a young company, and Lee says it will have to make some major changes to its business strategy before it can grow big.
“We’re really just trying to figure out how to build out a platform that’s good at advertising,” he said.
That’s partly because the way that advertisers buy ads is changing.
As technology advances, marketers will be able to use more efficient and more natural-looking ad placings, says Alex DeCaires, a principal analyst with market research firm eMarketer.
But advertisers still need to invest heavily in advertising to get their message across, he adds.
Yahoo isn’t alone in its experiment.
In March, Facebook launched a $1 million ad campaign in Brooklyn, New York, using Yoon and similar technology.
Yahoo says that the ads have already attracted over 10 million views.
While Yahoo hasn’t done a complete comparison of its ads to Facebook’s, it has done a comparative study, comparing its Yoon ads to those of Facebook’s Facebook Live ads.
Yahoo’s ads look much better than the Facebook ads, Lee says.
Yahoo may have an advantage over Facebook in this regard, says DeCiers, but there are some caveats.
The ads’ native ads look different, as well.
YOO has also started to use natural-like interactions with its ads, which are supposed to be more natural than ads that are more like traditional advertising, says Joshua Brown, Yahoo chief digital officer.
That means that the Facebook Live ad has a more traditional aesthetic and can look more like an ad.
“It’s still not perfect,” DeCares says, adding that Yahoo’s approach could be better than what Facebook has been able to achieve with its own ads.
“The ads that Yahoo is trying to do are more natural and more intuitive than Facebook’s,” he adds, adding, “I don’t think there’s a single thing that Yahoo has done that’s been a perfect match.”
The company’s new ad platform may be better at making ads look natural than Facebook has.
For now, though, Yahoo is focusing on making its ads look as natural as possible.
“Yoon is a good start to building out a product and product experience that makes users feel comfortable,” Lee says, and the ads could eventually replace ads that Facebook uses to promote the service.
“There are a lot of brands that are using it in their ads,” he continues.
“That’s great for them, but what’s really good for us is that our users are seeing the ads for free.”
Yahoo has already seen an uptick in new users signups, which will help it build out its ad platform.
But Lee says the company will have an easier time growing its user base if it can tap into those users in the future. “If you