Yahoo: Right Media Lives On

Yahoo has zero plans to exit the exchange business.

Despite intense speculation that the Right Media exchange was either ripe for a sale or possibly headed to the scrap heap, over the past few days Yahoo executives have offered an emphatic defense of the oft-criticized exchange.

“There’s been some confusion in the marketplace,” said Jim Heckman, Yahoo’s svp of strategy and emerging businesses. Heckman’s message, delivered at the AppNexus Summit in New York on Thursday: don’t be confused. Right Media isn’t going anywhere.

“We’ve invested a tremendous amount of resources into Right Media. We’ve made hundreds of hires. I really want to clear up any confusion in the marketplace. I want to double, triple confirm [that Right Media is in our long-term plans].”

The confusion Heckman spoke about stemmed from the first chatter about the finally confirmed three-way sales alliance between Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Word quickly leaked that AppNexus would end up serving as that sales entity’s technology platform – fueling speculation that AppNexus had won and Right Media had lost.

But it turns out that each portal is selling the pooled inventory separately and can employ whatever tech backbone it prefers, which means Right Media gets a reprieve.

However, there remains serious doubt in the ad market that Right Media’s technology is up to the task of competitng with AppNexus, or Google for that matter. One buyer attending yesterday’s summit labeled it “garbage.”

“We think Right Media is doing great,” countered Joel Jones, head of Yahoo’s exchange business, during an interview earlier in the week. “We have a very healthy premium exchange.” To back up those claims, Jones said that RMX is handling roughly 10 billion impressions a day and works with 150,000 sellers and 50,000 different buyers. “There’s no question that Yahoo’s network business will continue to run on Right Media.”

On that note, Yahoo released a slew of new audience-targeting features this week, including an option that allows for local ad campaigns employing offline data. Bryan Schroeder, senior director at Yahoo for advertiser & publisher solutions, said the company would take extra steps to ensure that any privacy concerns would be addressed – including stripping out any personally identifiable information.

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