Mr. Barrett also confirmed what Ad Age prognosticated last month: he plans to stay
at Yahoo despite Mr. Levinsohn's departure.
With the announcement, Yahoo is hoping to remove the cloud of
uncertainty under which Right Media has operated for at least the
last year as previous Yahoo execs pushed to work out deals for the
exchange with either Google or AppNexus. The widespread perception
in ad tech is that Right Media has fallen behind competitor
exchanges from Google and AppNexus. Industry execs have previously
told Ad Age that a majority of total ad inventory on the exchange
is unsold Yahoo inventory and that the revenue generated from
non-Yahoo inventory on the exchange is immaterial to the overall
Yahoo business. Mr. Silver denied both assertions.
"Certainly [Yahoo is ] the anchor tenant, and it's great to have
them, but it's a minority of the supply," he said. "People have
been taking shots at Right Media for quite some time... and we've
been a little quiet, but we're not going to be quiet anymore."
Right Media planned to publish a blog post Thursday morning
highlighting improvements it has made to its platform since Mr. Silver came on board in January.
Mr. Silver said he has been meeting with Ms. Mayer weekly and
stressed to her from their first-to-face that it seemed time that
the company publicly backed Right Media.
"When I first met with Marissa, I told her, 'Hey, the last
couple of months have really been very negative toward the future
of our ad-tech stack,'" said Mr. Silver. "She said, 'Then we have
to ensure that we get out there and tell them it's just not
Over the past two weeks, industry execs have told Ad Age that
Ms. Mayer was likely to sign off on a plan to invest at least
several hundred million dollars into Right Media and the rest of
Yahoo's ad-tech products. Asked if that dollar range was accurate,
Mr. Silver did not answer directly but hinted that future
investments would be significant.
"Everything has to be relative to size. Obviously being as large
as we are, with the established presence we already have, key
decisions over the forthcoming period will both accelerate our
efforts as well as make it easier for our core customers to do
business with us," he said. "If you want to translate that into a
dollar figure, go ahead."
Still, it's not completely clear why Yahoo feels that it needs
to continue to invest in a platform that hasn't yet reaped the
rewards it had hoped for when it purchased it for $680 million in 2007. Mr. Barrett
said the company's senior leadership is aligned in the belief that
a media company as large as Yahoo shouldn't "outsource the money
engine of the company, the tech that actually converts demand from
buyers into revenue," as he described it. So why not focus
investments on technologies that only Yahoo will use rather than an
open exchange? Mr. Silver said owning the exchange helps Yahoo
bring in bigger budgets from advertiser clients who want to also
reach users off of Yahoo.
Mr. Barrett said he will likely bring on some new ad-sales hires
soon, but said the company hasn't decided how, or if, it will fill
the role vacated by former North American sales boss Wayne