Yahoo! readies globally branded network

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Yahoo! and Visa International are developing an online buyer's guide, part of a network of Web sites Yahoo! plans to unveil this month.

The buyer's guide, in which Visa is a minority investor, will include a cybermall, online purchasing capability and info about online transactions.

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The Yahoo! Network, which will comprise about 30 Yahoo-branded properties including My Yahoo!, Yahoo! Chat, the Yahoo! Buyer's Guide and Yahoo!'s regional sites, is close to signing its first global advertiser.

MAJOR AD DEAL

"The deal we're putting together is beyond the scope of what agencies have previously handled in the interactive arena," said Anil Singh, Yahoo!'s director of sales.

Because Yahoo! has been working closely with Procter & Gamble Co. on large-scale Web projects, some speculate that P&G might be the network's partner.

Neither Mr. Singh nor executives at Grey Advertising, New York, which handles P&G's interactive buying, would comment.

"Since our inception, we've focused on creating compelling properties," said Mr. Singh. "Now we're focusing on how to make our network properties a compelling buy for advertisers."

Through the network, an advertiser can buy finance, sports or news, for example, and be able to place ads on all Yahoo services related to those topics, whether local, national or international.

`OWN A CATEGORY'

"Advertisers can own an entire category across our network," said Mr. Singh. "The challenge is to make ad packages understandable and easy for advertisers to buy."

Although specific pricing is not disclosed, Mr. Singh has established a "global matrix based on frequency and the number of category sites that are part of the buy."

Yahoo! will handle all ad sales for the network in-house. It plans to double its sales force this year from about 30 currently. The company this month will also announce partners to track traffic.

It "sounds like the network will be useful, because there will most likely be some efficiencies created--via price, via fewer sales reps for the same properties," said Tig Tillinghast, director of interactive at Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco.

Yahoo! also partnered with TV Guide to provide TV listings on its regional sites and Get Local area.

Contributing: Debra Aho Williamson

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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