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Yahoo plugs its AMP plans for graphical ads

The forthcoming online advertising system promises much to those looking for a simpler, more lucrative method, including its first users, Yahoo's newspaper partners.

The message was eminently clear in this slide, which was one of many Yahoo filed with the SEC in mid-March: Happiness comes to those who adopt Yahoo's display ad platform. Yahoo, via SEC

Updated 9:27 PM PDT to reflect the actual announcement from Yahoo.

Later this year, Yahoo expects to have in place the first phase of a new system intended to generate greater revenue from graphical online advertising.

The system, called AMP, is expected to become available in the third quarter of 2008 for newspapers participating with Yahoo in an online ad consortium. But that's just the initial phase. Yahoo says it "plans to extend the functionality of the platform as well as participation to additional publishers, advertisers, agencies, and ad networks through the rest of 2008 and into 2009."

A report Sunday in The New York Times took a somewhat pessimistic view of the timing, saying the system is "still months away from being ready" and pointing to Yahoo's newspaper partners getting going with AMP "in the late summer or in the fall."

AMP is supposed to make it simpler for Yahoo's partners--newspaper and otherwise--to sell online ads across a range of outlets and to focus those ads by say, geography or demographic profile. Eventually it is expected to expand beyond display advertisements to other types of ads, including search and video.

The new ad management platform, Yahoo said in its press release, "will deliver a faster, easier, and more automated and integrated way to create, buy, and sell advertising and do so across a transparent global marketplace."

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The AMP pitch comes as Yahoo faces increasing pressure in an unsolicited takeover bid by Microsoft. On Saturday, Microsoft threw down the gauntlet, telling Yahoo it has three weeks in which to "sit down and negotiate a definitive agreement." Failure to comply would spur Redmond to launch a proxy battle for control of Yahoo's board and could bring a lower bid than the initial $31 per share.

A number of times in the weeks since Microsoft launched its courtship, Yahoo has claimed that the software giant has undervalued Yahoo's worth. Never was that more apparent than in mid-March when Yahoo filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it would double its cash flow by 2010--in part because of the strength of its online advertising efforts.

AMP, previously known as the Advertiser and Publisher Exchange, or Apex, is a combination of technologies developed in-house and through acquisitions such as that of Right Media.

The last time Yahoo worked on a major ad platform, it struggled. The search ad platform known as Panama, eventually debuted about a year ago, and Yahoo executives have expressed satisfaction with its real-world financial returns. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has between 500 and 700 engineers working on AMP, according to a newspaper partner.