Yahoo wants us to know they’re a “mobile first” company. How do you prove that commitment to mobile? You go buy a mobile marketing analytics and mobile-ad network like, say, Flurry. And that’s just want Yahoo did the other day, reportedly plunking down between $200 million and $300 million (according to press reports).
(Author’s note: I really do not care for “mobile first” as a positioning statement for anybody or any company. It reads and sounds fatuous, at best. At worst, it reinforces the notion that mobile is “special.” This kind of thinking turns mobile into an island of resources, disconnected from a marketing department’s customer touchpoints.)
This acquisition is emblematic of the current state of mobile-app and mobile marketing analytics – very, very frothy. Demand for accountability in online advertising is just as high, if not higher, in mobile, driving increasing demands for marketing teams to invest in analytics. This demand is likely to increase, especially as programmatic advertising and real-time bidding spread from online to mobile. For greater detail on these categories of mobile marketing analytics providers, Gartner clients can review “Market Guide for Mobile Marketing Analytics.”)
We’ll see how Yahoo manages this acquisition. The company’s 450 million mobile monthly visitors (a data point recently released by Yahoo), and 100% increase in mobile display ad and search revenue (between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014), are certainly incentives to ensure the mobile investment pays off. Yet, as a company, Yahoo’s track record of successfully integrating acquisitions is . . . uneven. While current CEO Marissa Mayer was not at Yahoo when certain high-profile acquisitions were made — Maven Networks and, more recently, IntoNow — this purchase could be Mayer’s opportunity to show how a strategic acquisition can be turned into an important asset for the company’s current and future business.
Then again, if you’re a mobile marketing exec who has made an investment in Flurry, keep the clear lenses in your glasses, because a lot of folks will be offering you rose-colored ones. Yahoo’s global scale is undeniable, and that bodes well for Flurry. But Yahoo’s uneven history with acquisitions is just as undeniable.
Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, “Jaded much, Mike?” Let me know one way or another.