SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo Inc. believes it is poised to revolutionize online advertising after years of being outmaneuvered by rival Google Inc.
But the slumping Internet pioneer might not get the chance to show off the latest improvements to its online advertising platform unless it can convince increasingly impatient investors that the new approach will produce a bigger payoff than Microsoft Corp.'s unsolicited offer to buy the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company for more than $40 billion.
Hoping to gain wiggle room, Yahoo is releasing more details about its effort to become a one-stop shop for selling and distributing online display ads - the Internet's equivalent of billboards.
The upgrade, called "Amp," won't be available until some time this summer, and then only on a limited basis among more than 600 newspaper publishers trying to recover some of the revenue that the Internet has siphoned from their print editions.
Nevertheless, Yahoo will begin promoting Amp on Monday with an online video demonstration of a system that the company promises will make it easier for advertisers to aim their messages at specific demographic groups across scores of Web sites.
"This is a revolutionary approach that will allow marketers and publishers to deliver a more compelling experience for consumers," said Hilary Schneider, Yahoo's executive vice president of global partner solutions.
Those remarks echo similar boasts that Yahoo's top two executives, Jerry Yang and Sue Decker, made at an online advertising conference in late February.
At that time, the new system was still operating under the code name "Apex," shorthand for Advertiser Publisher Exchange.
Amp will rely heavily on data that Yahoo collects about people's preferences at its own Web site as well as other online destinations.
The practice, known as "behavioral targeting," has raised privacy concerns, but Yahoo believes consumers will appreciate seeing ads tailored to their individual interests.
Yahoo's new platform will be competing against similar technology recently acquired by Google and Microsoft. Google bought DoubleClick Inc. for $3.2 billion primarily so it would have a better vehicle for selling display ads.
Microsoft said that if a deal was not reached by April 26, it would launch a hostile takeover at a less attractive price.
If Microsoft pursues that option, Yahoo's annual shareholders meeting, which must be held by July, is the most likely forum for a showdown.