It's easier to sell ads if you can prove they push product. That's why Google and Facebook have gotten into the e-commerce business, why Amazon has gotten into the advertising business, and it now appears to be why Yahoo is buying a social shopping site.
Yahoo has agreed to acquire Polyvore, which is like a fashion-centric version of Pinterest. People and brands can use Polyvore to post fashion products like articles of clothing or accessories, create outfits from these items and share them with others. And people perusing outfits on Polyvore can click on individual garments and then click to buy them on one of 350 participating retailers' sites.
Yahoo did not disclose how much it is paying for Polyvore.
For Yahoo and its ad-supported content business, the acquisition seems to make plenty of sense. Its sites Yahoo Style and Yahoo Beauty already feature a lot of products that can be bought online. With Polyvore, Yahoo could make money from that coverage by including items posted to Polyvore as well as their e-commerce links. But the opportunities extend beyond any affiliate marketing revenue.
Yahoo could use Polyvore's technology and relationships with retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Urban Outfitters and Nasty Gal to sell retailers and merchants on buying ads to promote their products on Yahoo's sites as well as Polyvore, which appears to be the plan according to Yahoo's press release announcing the deal.
Beyond that, Polyvore would appear to bring some valuable data to Yahoo about people's shopping habits that the portal could use to better target and measure brands' ads. That could help Yahoo make the case to advertisers that its ads can drive revenue, a sales pitch that Facebook and Google have already adopted.