Q&A: Yahoo CMO Elisa Steele


Why do a big TV campaign like this? Why not just improve your offerings and let the word get out?
You and I know word of mouth is tremendously important in this business. We got some attention from our advertising campaign, which in some cases was positioned as the one thing we’re doing and that’s just not the case. This campaign is highly integrated. It obviously requires product innovation, operations, a great sales strategy, strong marketing. There’s not just one thing we’re investing in. I would also say it’s kind of interesting around dollars being spent in the industry. We’re spending probably half of what [Microsoft’s] Bing is spending in the marketplace.

Since you brought up a competitor, you’re spending less than Bing but more than Google.
Google is the global market leader, and they have the No. 1 share in the space that they own. So it’s a great strategy for them. I also would expect -- not a prediction, but a wonderment -- based on the activity in the marketplace, that 2010 will have a different trend chart for Google on advertising spend than in 2009.

In an online video, you take aim at Google indirectly, but it’s obvious you’re talking about them when you mention a blank search page. Why go there?
It’s one video in a series of videos that are going to be released. I can tell you that not all of the videos take that approach. But this was an expression between us and Goodby about how we wanted to express the spirit of who Yahoo is. Since it’s the only video that’s out now, it’s getting discussed as the campaign strategy, but it’s not. I think you’ll find over the next few [executions] that Yahoo’s expression through video will be very interesting, thought provoking and fresh.

What does the Yahoo brand represent?
Yahoo represents bringing the best of the Web, the best of those experiences to individuals. So it’s about personal relevance, bringing those experiences that matter to you most. My home page is different than your home page. We serve up 32,000 homepages every five minutes, so we’re really delivering on personally relevant experiences. Everything we do going forward is going to showcase that.