Earnings: YHOO Execs Semel and Decker Promise Better Days Ahead With Panama, Other Efforts

Another round of promises from Yahoo chairman and CEO Terrey Semel and CFO Sue Decker but this time they say delivery is at hand. In the first earnings call since a December reorganization that left COO Dan Rosensweig without a chair in the proverbial executive suite, Semel and Decker, with a little help from co-founder Jerry Yang, did everything but dance the hora to mark the end of a year that was less than glorious. From the 58-minute call:
Project Panama: Semel: “We expect revenue impact to begin in second quarter and gain momentum in 2007 and beyond. … Panama’s going to also help us to mmove forward with a lot of the things that we have in design now … as well as some other platforms.”
Display advertising: Revenue from the top 200 U.S. display advertisers was up nearly 30 percent in 4Q. Financial services, mentioned as a problem point in the fall comments that caused a mini-panic, were a positive for 4Q.
eBay/newspapers: Semel: “Our partnership with eBay is going well. We have officially begun selling both graphical advertising and sponsored search within eBay.” Yahoo’s partnership with the newspaper consortium adds “significant local advertising growth opportunities. … We have begun initial implementation between local newspapers and Yahoo;s HotJobs …”
CFO search: Decker, who heads advertising under the new structure, continues to serve as CFO. Semel said they are talking with some very, very fine people” but they have “just begun the process.” (I don’t recall him being asked how the hunt for an audience head was going; some people in and outside Yahoo have suggested to me recently that outside efforts be dropped and Jeff Weiner should be promoted to the job.)
Right Media: Yahoo’s purchase of 20 percent of Right Media came up in prepared remarks and q-and-a. Semel said the company increased its allocation of non-premium inventory to the Right Media Exchange and worked with direct markerters to help them use the tools. Later, Decker said, the plan is to increase participation in Right Media during the 2007 and that Yahoo has been buying incremental inventory and packaging it with its own inventory, at this point, it’s more in testing than full-fledge usage. “It’s fair to say we’re largly testing; it’s relatively immaterial as yet.”
MyBlogLog: Semel said Yahoo’s most start-up acquisition was getting a boost from the association. In the few days since the acquisition, the number of sites who have adopted their badges have taken off, he said, adding that yesterday was a record day with “literally millions of these badges used across the internet.” The goal is for every Yahoo user to become a participant in the “consumption and publishing of knowledge” through social media like tagging, reviewing, sharing.
More on social media: Semel said Yahoo Answers, Flickr, de.icio.us and yahoo Video have surpassed 100 million monthly users; 50 percent are under 35. Semel: “To put that into perspective, it puts us ahead of … MySpace and Facebook in this attractive demographic.”
Fee-paying relationships: Yahoo ended 4Q with 16.3 million fee-paying relationships, up 39 percent year over year and five percent sequentially. Fee revenue hit $213 million, up 15 percent over 4Q05. The goal, said Decker, is 19 million by the end of 2007 with average revenue per user toward the low end of $3-4 dollars per month.
Reorganization: Semel volunteered an answer to a question he says he gets asked probably every single day “and I take it almost as a compliment: why did you re-org the company? … Well, if you think about it, it put us in a position to do a few things that we were having a harder time doing in the past. A, on the audience side, it puts us much more close to our best and most valued customers. We get to know then better, they get to know us better. We’re going to have metrics that identify them and help us identify them to our advertisers and clients as well. We can do a much better job on the audience side by being focused and being there all the time. On the advertiser and publisher side, all of our energies and everybody working in that huge group will be dedicated towards abilities to reach out to advertisers, both on our own network and off of our network; create great engineering teams, which we have, all in one place, all financed to go ahead and start building things for the future. …” Etc.
The transcript went up on SeekingAlpha as I was finishing this for those of you who can’t get enough Yahoo.
Webcast | Transcript

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