Yahoo Confirms Ad-Tech Leadership Shakeup

New Ad-Tech Boss' Promotion Underscores Flurry's Importance

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Marissa Mayer, Yahoo
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo Credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
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A year after Yahoo overhauled its ad-tech product line, the company has reorganized who is in charge of it as it shifts focus from selling ads on others' sites to selling them on others' mobile apps.

Yahoo has promoted Prashant Fuloria to be the company's senior VP-advertising products, a Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed on Friday. Mr. Fuloria had joined Yahoo in August after the portal acquired mobile app analytics firm and ad network Flurry, where he had been chief product officer.

In his new role, Mr. Fuloria will be in charge of all ad product development at Yahoo, spanning display banners, so-called "native" ads, video spots and mobile placements.

"Prashant brings more than a decade of experience building advertising platforms at Google, Facebook and most recently, Flurry, to Yahoo. With Prashant leading the team, we will continue to streamline and integrate our growing advertising technology capabilities in a way that brings the greatest value to advertisers," the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Re/code first reported on Thursday that Yahoo was considering giving Mr. Fuloria the ad-tech reins. And Thursday night The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Yahoo had indeed made the change via a company memo.

According to Re/code and The Wall Street Journal, Scott Burke, the Yahoo exec who played a major role in Yahoo acquiring Flurry, will now report to Mr. Fuloria, who will report directly to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Mr. Burke had previously reported to Ms. Mayer.

A Yahoo vet since 2006, Mr. Burke has served as the company's senior VP-ad tech and data platforms since 2010. The tenure hasn't been all roses. During his time at the helm, Yahoo's ad-tech products are said to have waned, according to media buyers and ad-tech executives. Yahoo's ad exchange, in particular, has lagged behind competitors like Google's ad exchange that lets advertisers buy ads on third-party sites through real-time, eBay-style auctions.

Soon after Ms. Mayer took over as Yahoo's CEO in July 2012, she made a public commitment to righting what was wrong with Right Media. Then in January 2013, Yahoo rebranded Right Media as Yahoo Ad Exchange and announced a new tool called Yahoo Ad Manager Plus for advertisers to buy Yahoo's more premium ad types through a computer-automated system. However that ad-buying tool faced months of delays, and Yahoo has recently told companies it plans to stop selling ads on non-Yahoo sites through its ad exchange, as AdExchanger has reported.

Beyond the acquisitions of Flurry and video ad-tech firm BrightRoll, Mr. Burke's most recent bright spot is likely Yahoo Gemini, a marketplace for advertisers to buy Yahoo's mobile search ads and native Stream Ads that appear within its properties' content feeds. That marketplace was a significant contributor to the $200 million Yahoo made in mobile revenue during the third quarter, the first time that Yahoo reported its mobile revenue.

But the future of Gemini and Yahoo's ad-tech business at large appears to be taking what self-proclaimed "mobile-first" Yahoo has done in automating the native in-stream ads on its own mobile apps and taking them to others' apps. The idea is that, by increasing the number of ads Yahoo can sell, Yahoo can gin up interest among advertisers looking for lots of eyeballs. If successful, Yahoo may see its display advertising revenue grow year-over-year for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2012. Mr. Burke indicated that was the plan when Yahoo announced the Flurry deal in July and said months later that display revenue will return to annual growth in 2015. And Ms. Mayer reinforced the company's intention for Flurry during its most recent earnings call.

"Flurry can take our native ads from our Gemini platform and give us an opportunity to syndicate them. That's really the plan with Flurry," Ms. Mayer said in October. And apparently Mr. Fuloria is the man to enact that plan.