Jerry Yang had the grace to not cancel on the IAB keynote interview today, not sure I would have done the same were I in his shoes. We spoke briefly before he went on, he seemed in good spirits, though clearly the reality of Yahoo’s situation sat heavy in the air.
He and President Sue Decker (that was a surprise) took the stage together, and Jerry spoke solo for a bit. Notes:
The journey has been anything but boring and we are on the cusp of something more interesting….will be talking about role of technology in the advertising business…what is Yahoo? We need to continue to innovate and lead….Yahoo as the “starting point”…focus on key starting points: home page, Yahoo mail, search, and mobile. And then three key vertical content areas: Finance, News, Sports.
Yang alludes again to open platform for Yahoo….but gives no details. Mentions “social aspect” – namechecks the social graph, says it’s still early.
So far, no mention of the MSFT hostile bid, or the trouble the company is in. I think the audience is waiting for it…but they are not going to get it in his prepared comments.
Jerry introduces Sue. Sue is going to talk about Yahoo’s advertising strategy in a post Panama world. Sue is the architect of Yahoo’s approach to the ad network business (ie buying a ton of them)….Sue:
Need to simplify things…it’s highly complex to do digital advertising…need a powerful platform…that’s what Yahoo is building…we are building a cutting edge ad platform running across search, display, video…capable of harnessing Yahoo and non Yahoo properties….we’re trying to revolutionize the online industry…a lofty goal (and one Microsoft, AOL, Google also are trying to do)….
For a publisher: Imagine being able to distribute an advertisers’ campaign across your audience, as well as other publishers audiences….(hmmmm not sure publishers would want to do that, though I can see it if the publishers are aligned). This is clearly central to Yahoo’s strategy, as well as doing the same with advertisers. Hmmm. Much to talk about there..
From and advertiser point of view – simplification of campaign flighting and operations (which I can tell you from personal experience is a major issue).
For agencies – streamline the buying process. For Ad Networks, connect your publishers to more advertisers.
An open platform could simplify the process. True, but it’s a boil the ocean ecosystem play.
Too much time is spent on the bring part of the business, not enough time on the creative (I hear that).
OK, the comments from both are over, and now Randall is going to ask questions.
Jerry asks if the first question is about Microsoft. Joke about the Oscars.
So the Microsoft question: We can’t say a whole lot about it. “It’s been galvanizing for us.” Yahoo is a unique asset, and we have to think it through…
Sue: There’s a big impact on the workforce but…she is focusing on the day to day business. We had to clean up some old deals that were no longer market (I think this is a reference to their third party ad selling deals with folks like WebMD, etc. – version 1.0 of the strategy they are now talking about on stage).
Randall: Branded publishers are scared of commoditization of their inventory. What is your response? We see the exchange as a critical part of the broader platform…driving openness and scale….if we could decrease the friction it should increase the yield for publishers (er…well, not if you are selling high premium inventory. I think if you are sold out of high yield inventory, perhaps you can reach into this platform to get more, but then it’s not YOUR inventory, it’s not your engaged audience. So how does this help? I’m not getting this…but …Lord knows I don’t always get everything all at once…). She pitches the idea of publisher’s adding Yahoo inventory to what the publisher’s sell (this idea bears more consideration in another post). Also, Yahoo driving traffic to partner sites (ie the newspaper deals Yahoo has been leading).
Discussion of Yahoo’s newspaper deals follows. I’ll spare you the details. It’s actually interesting, structurally, and I sure hope it works. She mentions that Yahoo’s work in display is far more complicated than search and Panama – because inventory is negotiated, not auction, and very fragmented. APeX is the name – Advertiser Publisher Exchange…
Yes, it is more complicated. I think I need to spend some time grokking this with the Yahoo folks…
Yahoo has reengineered its sales force to be integrated across all channels – solutions based, not channel based. A good move.
To be honest, while it’s clear these guys have spent a fair amount of time staring at this problem, it’s not clear to me what the big vision is…and neither Jerry nor Sue landed any counterpunches with regard to the Microsoft threat. They were very careful to say…pretty much nothing.
But Jerry pulls one out in the end: By 2013, he says, online advertising will be the biggest medium in the US, by ad spend. Now that’s something folks gathered under the banner of the IAB can certainly applaud.