Ronnie05's Blog

Rediscovering Yahoo!

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on June 11, 2011

There was once a time, when Internet was synonymous with Yahoo! and MSN and Google was a start-up. Those were still early days of what I call Web 1.0 and regardless of whether you loved or hated Yahoo!, you simply could not miss it.And then the script started changing and Yahoo! misread the entire Google search based ads and its potential. Yahoo! was enjoying being the No.1 in banner ads and it didn’t see any threat in Search. That is where Google turned the tables over and Yahoo! and since then Yahoo! has played catch up. In fact, it never even played catch up, it has been lumbering indistinctly ever since, a shadow of its former shelf.


Yahoo!’s and Carol Bartz’s efforts at reviving haven’t really inspired any much confidence.The stock continues at a 7 year low. The $20 bn company is really a shadow of former self!

In 2009-10,Carol Bartz launched an aggressive campaign to re-vitalize Yahoo!. On Search, it partnered with Bing to take on Google. A $100 million marketing campaign around re-positioning Yahoo kicked off. And Nothing happened! A few ads here and there, Yahoo has not made significant over-haul yet and worse, I don’t see any big future in the horizon as well.

So now, it does come as a surprise when Alex Linde, Director of Yahoo! Mobile advertising christened Yahoo! as a premier digital media company! There is not much doubt about its being a media company. Matter of fact, Yahoo!’s library of content over the last 14-15 years is second to none and Yahoo should ideally be the content king of Internet. The incongruence around “premier digital media company” is because Media today is defined more by YouTube, Google, Twitter and Facebook more than Yahoo. Media today is real time and not the archival internet bytes. Media today is shared discoverability it as it happens. And Yahoo! is not how Media is defined today. It is a great archives, a great library, but nothing current is Yahoo!

Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo! EVP defends it attributing that it still has 700 million people on its platform. That’s about 50% of the online population globally. Nine out of ten Internet users in the U.S. Yahoo! It features as No1. Or No.2 in 19 categories — sports, news, finance, and entertainment news, one of the largest entertainment gossip site, larger than ESPN in sports, larger than Wall Street Journal, Fox News and Bloomberg combined in finance. Yahoo is still the most trusted brand on the Web. Flickr is the largest generic crowd-sourced photo-sharing experience. The numbers are good, but somehow Yahoo! doesnot get credit for them. More importantly Yahoo! seems to be quite clueless as to how it could translate these numbers to strategy and numbers.

Yahoo! always has the massive audiences, scale, data that enables them to target and a canvas that brands and advertisers can actually tell a story on. Sure, its not as easy as the 1999-2000 era and Yahoo has to compete and contend with the company of Google and Facebook. Yahoo! is beginning to aggressive look at new formats in the ad space-video specially to tell a brand’s story. The criticality here is to integrate the diverse platforms that Yahoo! has presence in and leverage the scale of numbers as high as 700 million to provide the canvas to brands to target users.

According to Levinsohn- The important thing (for Yahoo!) is to figure out how all their big business categories will work together. It is also important to take a look at what Yahoo! does in search and figure out how to optimize that incredible rich product and history, how to integrate mail with other content pieces (and) search pieces, make sure that product and region are working hand in hand.

Yahoo! is clearly beginning to focus on its strengths and the online advertising space and re-organizing its businesses around the media-ad canvas vision. This is possibly the second act leading to Yahoo’s revival and though I am un-convinced about Yahoo!’s edge in delivering its intent, its worth a watch. Good Luck, Yahoo!

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