Yahoo! Canada debuts digital ‘upfronts’

A TV-inspired sales session at St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto saw the portal show off flashy new display ad options and define its media strategy for 2011.

Yahoo! Canada unveiled its 2011 ad and content strategy to an audience of advertisers and media buyers at its first ‘digital upfronts’ late yesterday afternoon.

Inspired by the marathon TV sessions in June, the ‘upfronts’ were designed to introduce clients and buyers to the changes that are happening, and will be happening, at the portal this fall and in the year ahead.

Yahoo! Americas exec David Ko first ran the audience through some of the more recent changes at the portal, including the US-based acquisition of Associated Content, the ‘crowd-sourced’ content site that allows anyone with a keyboard and internet connection to create topical articles. The portal’s content strategy, he said, is comprised of three pillars: syndicated, original and crowd-sourced.

He was followed by Matt Drinkwater, senior director, sales, Yahoo! Inc, who introduced some of the portal’s new global display inventory and ad executions, some of which will be making an appearance soon here. A Canadian advertiser was used in the first example, of a super expandable big-box ad in Yahoo! email, featuring TD Bank’s ‘First Class Adventures’ campaign. The ad started out normally, then spilled out of the box and grew to take over the whole page. For a more elaborate example, Drinkwater referred to a US-based Macy’s catalogue in-email campaign, which Yahoo! developed for the retailer. The in-email ad featured a browseable 75-page digital replica of the catalogue, with content targeted to the reader’s location and preferences as logged in their Yahoo! accounts.

Yahoo!’s Matt Drinkwater

The final example is one that will join Yahoo! Canada’s display inventory in the next few weeks, a splashy new display ad in which an advertiser can take over the whole login page for Yahoo! email (see photo above). There’s a lot of excess real estate when all the doodads on search and login pages are removed, Drinkwater pointed out, and Yahoo! intends to make the most of it with new inventory.

The presentation wrapped with Paula Festas, director, sales, Yahoo! Canada, who took some time on Tuesday to speak with MiC before her presentation Wednesday.

At Yahoo! Canada, there will be an increased focus on sports, lifestyle, finance and news, and more original Canadian content, including a Montreal Canadiens portal targeted at Quebec, she said.

‘We’re going to keep focusing on better content, we’re going to keep focusing on more video,’ Festas says.

Imported from the US, The Sports Minute is a new feature on Yahoo! Canada that will serve up coverage from the fields and rinks with an entertainment bent. Premier events like the NHL playoffs and the Superbowl will also get a lot of attention on the site. The Habs portal will bring in video and bloggers to track the team’s season.

Angela Sun, host of The Sports Minute

In the lifestyle section, the Thread is being imported from the company’s US site. The section is sponsored by Procter & Gamble stateside and Festas hopes for an equivalent Canadian sponsor for the beauty and fashion area.

Across the site, there will be opportunities for advertisers to integrate through traditional placements, as well as through blogs, videos and a new gift guide that will evolve through the year with offerings for all the holidays, she added.