You know those times when you’ve got some cash in your pocket, and you know that you ought to stick it in your bank account (or under your mattress), but you just can’t help going from store to store to spend it until there’s nothing left? That seems to be what Yahoo’s been doing under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer, as the company announced the acquisition of mobile advertising company Admovate today.

While Admovate doesn’t have nearly the same kind of name-brand recognition as Flickr and Tumblr—two of Yahoo’s high profile tech acquisitions—the purchase does point to an overall trend. Simply put, Yahoo is buying its way back into relevance, one startup at a time.

According to an announcement posted by Scott Burke, Yahoo’s senior vice president of display advertising and advertising technology, the Admovate purchase was made to help Yahoo “invest further in our ad tech platforms—Apt, Genome, and Right Media—and make buying easier for advertisers and agencies. Admovate’s personalization technology accelerates our capabilities in mobile advertising, and we gain an exceptionally talented technical team.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Yahoo execs were making public statements that seemed to point the way to a forthcoming Foursquare acquisition. At the time, it seemed that Yahoo was working hard at establishing a beachhead in the mobile space—someplace where Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all managed to find a foothold, but Yahoo has yet to conquer. I’m not sure if a Foursquare buy is still in the offing, but it seems as though Admovate might scratch Yahoo’s mobile itch for the time being.

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Finding a way to connect advertisers with mobile users is definitely the kind of strategy that’ll help Yahoo’s initiatives going forward. It’s entirely possible that Yahoo may be getting ready to release its own mobile OS overlay, much like Facebook Home, with Admovate’s tech helping to monetize it. That’s nothing more than speculation on my part, but considering how aggressive Yahoo has become this year in terms of its acquisitions, a bold move like that wouldn’t be completely out of the question.

At this point, it’s too soon to tell quite what effect the Admovate purchase will have on Yahoo’s business as a whole. But one thing is for sure: this is a company worth watching.


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