Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made her first major appearance before the ad community at the company’s second annual NewFronts executive in New York. During her introductory remarks the exec introduced a pair of premium, big-ticket ad units while extolling the company’s commitment to original content.
Mayer grabbed a few minutes during the show to talk with Adweek.
There is a lot of speculation as to whether you are committed to doing original content or whether you’d rather veer away from that.
Mayer: We value original content—both our own produced content and content from partnerships. One of the things you’ll see from us is using partnerships to expand our breadth. So we curate content or include user-generated content. For example, we’re very happy with ABC, and we’re expanding that partnership. We’ve got originals, like the John Stamos show. And we have OMG Insider, which is a great example of the partnership strategy. So we want to keep those things going and also work on content for the torso and tail.
Do you think events like the NewFronts, with high-profile stars and projects, can help the industry go after TV money?
Overall our focus is on the user and what makes them happy, and really delighting them with a Yahoo experience. It’s not just how the products look and work; it’s actually the content.
There’s been stuff in the press about whether you like advertising or want to have a relationship with Madison Avenue.
We’ve been talking to them throughout the whole time I’ve been at Yahoo. And while I was at Google, too, but we’ve been talking more intensely here. I think that everyone likes a story. There isn’t much to it. We’ve actually had really successful meetings and relationships with almost all of the top advertisers and agencies.
It’s pretty telling that you announced a few big ad products here, right?
In your tenure, you’ve talked a lot about personalization and data. Hasn’t Yahoo been talking about that forever, at least since the days of MyYahoo?
Now we’re actually doing it. I think the difference now is understanding implicitly what people want. MyYahoo is very explicit. Put these modules on your homepage, lay them out in this order. What’s happening today is we have a news feed on Yahoo. And that news feed is different for every person. It’s customized to you based on the sources you like, the topics you like, what your friends like, what you like across the Web. We’re pulling that news together in a way that hasn’t been done before. And we’re doing that with ads as well.
If you talk to advertisers, they know Yahoo’s big. They want you to succeed, but they feel like it’s been a little while since you got them excited. Is it a big priority to recapture that with a big splashy buy or new content or something?
For a lot of folks, it’s about us having products that feel fresh and new. And we’re just gotten started for that. We’ve had a couple of very nice early wins, in terms of Flickr for IOS, in terms of the new Yahoo Mail. But we really need to get into a cadence where we’re updating our products all the time. And we’re particularly proud of Yahoo Weather and a Yahoo app that launched last week. So we’re getting into a cadence of lots of launching. But part of this is building a sense of momentum and energy.
Was that not always there in the last few years?
Well, I think that the turbulence that Yahoo’s had over the last five years, it’s been distracted. It’s not a coincidence when you ask people when was your last major redesign, the answer is 2007, 2008. For example, Yahoo Groups hasn’t been updated since 2001. So we have to go back and decide which products are important.
Talk about your new ad products.
For example, the Yahoo Stream ads, which takes the news feed and brings into play a sponsored unit. The scale is actually pretty good when you look at the amount of traffic the Yahoo homepage has and when you look at the number of advertisers we have, especially when you include search advertisers. Our ability to take these wonderful text ads and make them as personal as the content…not everyone gets every ad. That's the personalization that's been lacking. These ads are also easy for advertisers. They are standard IAB ad sizes everybody buys.