Yahoo's Testing Big, Autoplay Video Ads on Search Pages

Ads Stretch Full Width of Page, but Appear to Be Only on Desktop

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Yahoo is testing full-width, autoplay video ads on its search pages.
Yahoo is testing full-width, autoplay video ads on its search pages.

In an apparent bid to get brand advertisers to buy search ads and search advertisers to buy video ads -- and maybe give its sales team a way to deflect marketers' questions about the company's future -- Yahoo is testing full-bleed, autoplay video ads on its search results pages.

The ads are running atop search results, stretch the entire width of the page on desktop and play automatically with the sound off. Ad Age encountered the ads on desktop but was not able to find them when using the same search query on Yahoo's mobile site or in its mobile apps.

"We're continuously developing and testing new ways to enhance our products for advertisers, but we don't have anything to announce at this time," a Yahoo spokeswoman said in response to a request for comment.

It's unclear if or when Yahoo plans to officially roll out the ad product. But it's not the only search engine looking to make a grab at brands' video ad dollars. Google has also tested video ads on its search results pages, according to Digiday.

If Yahoo does go ahead with the autoplay video ads on search, it could help the company grow its search revenue, which has experienced year-over-year declines for the past three quarters after subtracting the money Yahoo pays companies like web browser maker Mozilla to drive traffic to its search pages.

And getting search advertisers to buy video ads, which Yahoo categorizes as display ads, could help maintain the slight positive momentum its display ad business has seen over the past two quarters.

However it's not likely that these ads would be enough to turn the tide at Yahoo, whose board is deliberating this week over whether to sell or spin off its core search-and-display advertising business.