Yahoo signs content deal with GroupM ad agency

New original content is high on Yahoo's priority list, and programs developed with advertisers in mind are low-risk and high reward--assuming they are halfway decent.

Yahoo's deal with GroupM should produce more content designed specifically for advertisers, such as celebrity mom blog Spotlight to Nightlight, hosted by Ali Landry (right), shown interviewing Mayim Bialik. Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

Yahoo's bid to expand the amount of original content it produces is about to get some help from an advertising agency.

CNBC reported Wednesday that Yahoo has signed an agreement with WPP's GroupM digital entertainment studio to co-produce original content that will likely highlight WPP's advertising clients in a significant way. Yahoo confirmed the deal has been signed, and it hopes to have the new shows ready to go by the end of this year or the beginning of 2010.

One of Yahoo's main priorities this year is building out its Media group, which is slated to receive the windfalls generated by Yahoo's ongoing plan to exit businesses it no longer considers to be at its core. The group already does a ton of traffic, but executives want to increase the amount of originally produced content on the site in hopes of luring advertisers with deep pockets.

One way to make that happen is to get the advertiser on board even before the content is created. Like any online media company, Yahoo tracks the activity of its readers and viewers to get a sense of what people are reading and watching, and can pitch advertisers with ideas for shows that target the people they want to reach. An early implementation of this strategy resulted in the development of a blog about celebrity moms called "Spotlight to Nightlight" hosted by Ali Landry and sponsored by State Farm, after Yahoo noticed a surge in searches for content related to celebrity parents.

Concepts that are being considered by GroupM and Yahoo include "Rock 'n Roll Jet Plane," a reality show billed as a "real-life 'Almost Famous,'" and "50 Jobs," a show patterned after The Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" that follows unemployed job seekers. The shows could also include the types of scripted longer-form show that Yahoo is developing, if there's a match between concept and advertiser.

Whether or not any of this content will actually be watchable is another matter, of course. But the strategy is low-risk for Yahoo, in that the company can only develop programs that already have a sponsor and outsource much of the production work to GroupM.

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