Yahoo courts app developers at its first-ever mobile conference

At the center of Yahoo's new suite of development tools is Flurry, an analytics service that tells developers how customers are interacting with their software -- and allows them to make money from displaying Yahoo ads.

Eric Risberg/AP
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer delivers the keynote address at Yahoo's Mobile Developer Conference in San Francisco, California.

Yahoo has a message for developers: Use our app-making tools, and you’ll make money. The company unveiled a new suite of analytics, search, and advertising tools for app makers on Thursday at its first-ever mobile developer conference, held in San Francisco.

The Yahoo Mobile Development Suite is part of Yahoo’s plan to catch up with Google, Facebook, and Twitter in the mobile arena by hosting more ads in smart phone and tablet apps.

The center of the suite is Flurry, an analytics and advertising service that Yahoo purchased last year. Flurry offers a way for app makers to understand how users interact with their software, and for marketers to do in-app advertising. Flurry is used by more than 200,000 developers, and now that it’s under Yahoo’s roof, it’s integrated with Yahoo’s advertising and marketing products.

In addition to Flurry Analytics, the suite also includes Flurry Pulse, which lets appmakers share data taken from Flurry with their development partners; and Yahoo Search in Apps, a new tool that allows developers to add search capabilities to their apps and earn revenue when users click on ads. It also includes two in-house products: Yahoo App Publishing and Yahoo App Marketing, which together form the cornerstone of Yahoo’s mobile comeback plan.

Both products bring the company’s Brightroll and Gemini advertising networks to mobile apps, giving developers a way to include native, video, and social ads in their software. If app makers use these tools, they’ll gain useful insight into how users interact with their apps, and will also earn extra revenue from displaying Yahoo’s ads. Yahoo, for its part, gets better exposure for its ads and its search.

Yahoo hosted more than 1,000 developers at its conference, hoping they’ll use the company’s tools and promote their software on Yahoo sites. Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer told the audience that since she came to the company in July 2012, “mobile went from being a hobby within the company, with 50 people working on it, to a quarter of [the] company.” The average American who owns a smart phone spends nearly three hours on that device every day, so it’s no wonder that Yahoo is keen on expanding its technology and ads into more and more mobile software.

Yahoo made $254 million in revenue last quarter from showing mobile ads, but the company’s share of the overall mobile market is tiny – just a hair over 3 percent, trailing behind Google, Facebook, and Twitter. If it can get more independent app developers to display its ads, Yahoo’s market share might increase – and if users don’t mind seeing Yahoo’s ads in their apps, the company’s mobile development suite might be a good thing for developers as well.

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