May 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Yahoo plans a marketplace move and improved ad targeting capabilities

Yahoo plans a marketplace move and improved ad targeting capabilities.

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Yahoo Inc. is moving to create a stronger presence as an online marketplace that will apply the company's extensive knowledge of consumers to help retailers and advertisers present products likely to appeal to the millions of consumers who visit Yahoo sites each day, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson said last month.

As part of a major revamp of the struggling Internet giant, Yahoo aims to build a better online shopping experience in core areas of consumer products, automotive and travel, and also to share the data it has on consumer interests in these areas with advertisers. "Our goal is to use the data, the traffic, the advertisers and the next generation of experiences [so] that we can build up those properties to more seamlessly connect what users are looking for with what advertisers are trying to sell to them," Thompson said in a Q1 earnings call with stock analysts. It was Thompson's first quarterly presentation to analysts since he joined Yahoo from the PayPal unit of eBay Inc., where he had been president.

Yahoo's new commerce business unit will be headed by Sam Shrauger, a former PayPal vice president for global product and design, and Mollie Spilman, former head of Yahoo Americas marketing, both of whom have been named senior vice president and report to Thompson.

Yahoo also said it will consolidate its technology platforms while shutting down properties that don't contribute much to revenue. As part of its technology improvements, Yahoo will move more software engineers to its commerce business unit, and will work on providing data insights and analytics to help advertisers more effectively reach consumers.

Thompson declined to provide details on how Yahoo will operate the commerce business unit, nor did he say how or if the unit would affect the operations of Yahoo Merchant Solutions, which provides e-commerce services to merchants that operate their own retail sites. A Yahoo spokeswoman for Yahoo Small Business, the unit that contains Yahoo Merchant Solutions, said that Merchant Solutions will continue with plans to build out its technology offerings.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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