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Yahoo! Dumps Brand Universes

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NEW YORK Yahoo! has scrapped its plan to create dozens of destinations for consumers to celebrate brands.

Dubbed "Brand Universes," the sites were intended to tap into the allure of hot brands—notably those in technology and entertainment—by creating one-stop shops featuring user-created videos, bookmarks, photos and reviews. Yahoo! launched the first of these properties in late 2006 with one celebrating the Nintendo Wii.

A Yahoo! rep said the destinations did not fit into the broader strategy laid out by CEO Jerry Yang for Yahoo! to be the "starting point" of consumer Internet activity. Keeping with that focus, Yang has said Yahoo! would curtail projects not central to that vision or its ad network strategy.

"We're going to focus on our core media assets at Yahoo!, which include news, finance sports and entertainment," said company rep Brian Nelson.

The Brand Universes concept died with the recent departure of Vince Broady, the former CNET executive who championed their creation. Silicon Valley blog Valleywag first reported news of the closure of the brand sites.

At the time when the Brand Universes were first announced, Yahoo! said it would initially create 100 such sites. The idea was to support the destinations with advertising. They would also provide a way for Yahoo! to pull together its disparate social media properties, Broady said at the time, such as photo site Flickr, bookmarking service Delicious and Q&A engine Answers.

Only a handful of sites were ever produced, however, including venues for Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars and Harry Potter. The initiative was formally shelved last week.

Yahoo! was not alone in creating brand hubs. MySpace has launched thousands of brand profile pages, allowing users to "friend" brands. Likewise, Facebook hosts product pages, where users can get information and declare they're "fans" of various brands.