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Summary:

Yahoo is cooking up new media model — one that involves creating little-to-no content. The company is harnessing its ability to build online audiences around brands, something it trumpeted at a media lunch held Tuesday at its Sunnyvale headquarters. Throughout presentations from the Yahoo Media Group, […]

Yahoo is cooking up new media model — one that involves creating little-to-no content. The company is harnessing its ability to build online audiences around brands, something it trumpeted at a media lunch held Tuesday at its Sunnyvale headquarters.

Throughout presentations from the Yahoo Media Group, a part of the new “Audience” division, the key word, uttered more times than we could count, was “promotions.” And so, in both overt and subtle fashion, Yahoo is a company transitioning itself into what’s essentially a marketing platform.

We’ve all wondered how Yahoo will emerge from the shadow of Google and its peanut butter demons. Many have long said Yahoo should define itself as a media company and get out of this technology game. Perhaps a compromise is for Yahoo to put its long-nurtured skills at attracting internet traffic as well as its favored status among brand advertisers to good use.

The most obvious example of Yahoo’s increasing bent towards marketing is its new “Brand Universe” initiative, announced in November. The company will tie together its disjointed properties — such as search, groups, Flickr, Answers, avatars — to lead back to pages about a certain pop culture topic — for instance, Nintendo’s Wii.

The discriminating factor here is popularity, not biz dev deal-making. Monetization is almost an afterthought; it will be varied on a case-by-case basis, and in some instances, the company that owns the brand will not even be involved, said Vince Broady, head of games and entertainment, over and over again to a bevy of incredulous reporters.

“Our whole purpose is to support their brand,” insisted Broady. “In some cases revenue sharing is not a huge priority.”

Yahoo says it will launch 100 such pages by year’s end; next up are the Sims, Halo, Lost, the Office, Transformers, and Harry Potter.

“Brand Universe” may be the most explicit projection of Yahoo’s increasing orientation towards marketing, but there are many others. A presentation about Yahoo TV and Yahoo Movies emphasized promoting pilot episodes and movie premieres; an overview of Yahoo Music highlighted contests, online-only tracks, and the ability of the site to measure buzz about a new single.

Throughout the presentations, original content efforts were clearly deemphasized. Scott Moore, head of news and information, repeatedly labeled Kevin Sites’ war-zone reporting on Yahoo News “good PR.” C’mon now people, that’s what you tell analysts, not reporters!

The marketing business may not be Google-big, but it’s something Yahoo can do well. So far, however, the talk about monetization is lackadaisical. That’s most likely a result of the recent Yahoo reorg, which leaves the financial stuff to an entirely different division. Now that could be a bit of a problem.

  1. if that doesn’t send shivers down the spine of every yahoo investor…

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  2. Peter.. that was great!

    It makes me wonder when the Yahoo/MS merger talks will heat up..both companies are heading in the wrong direction and this is a tell-tale sign that they (Yahoo) have had a recent major corporate shift in philosophy ..are they basically admitting that they cannot compete w/ Google?

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  3. Wow, brand mashups with little or no content aggregated from other places?

    I get an e-mail about THOUSAND INSTANT WORDPRESS SITES WITH INSTANT CONTENT on a regular basis, perhaps I should forward some of those to Yahoo!

    Hint: mesothelioma.yahoo.com should be nicely monetizable.

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  4. Yahoo does have parallels with LOST, I’m not sure where they are going next and I think they are making it up as they go along.

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  5. This is nothing compared to the hoo-hah brewing over on the flickr forums, since we (paying customers) have just been told that we are to be FORCED to switch to Yahoo!

    http://flickr.com/forums/help/32687/page6/#reply164692

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  6. King of the Mountain (View)…

    The options market might only be pricing in a 8% move in the stock, but the boys in Chicago probably don’t keep tabs on the competition…and it will take more than this to scare the Silverback in Mountain View…

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  7. I like this approach. Focus on quality and fun and let it ride. The problem for me is that Yahoo! is such a brand, for lack of a better word, a brand nazi. They need to lighten up a bit.

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  8. I like the idea, after all the future is all about internet media. However, Google’s business model seems much better – i.e. make money on other people’s ability to create content.

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  9. Yahoo’s ad presence is a financial pillar and any senior manager would be a fool not to realize that Yahoo need to focus R&D efforts to build upon the company’s IP in the ad delivery market.

    We assembled Yahoo/Overture’s ad platform patent portfolio which can be found here:
    http://www.patentmonkey.com/PM/FolderID/f260aae9d2664e7c857f64773ed00f38.aspx

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  10. We have an interesting controversy brewing on our site with a lively dialog regarding Clear Channel removing a billboard advertisement we had placed. We are interested in your opinion if you can find the time to visit: http://www.msco.com/blog/mark-stevens-vs-warren-buffet
    Thanks,
    Chris Kieff, Editor Unconventional Thinking

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