The move by Yahoo comes just weeks after its top sales executive Joanne Bradford, surprised the company by jumping to Associated Content’s top rival Demand Media to become chief revenue officer. And just recently, several other Yahoo executives, including former vp of brand packaging Erika Nardini reportedly followed Bradford to Demand. Yahoo had previously been rumored to be exploring an acquisition of Demand.
Now, Associated Content provides Yahoo with an answer to Demand, as well as AOL’s similar and much publicized content project Seed.com. Back in March AOL unleashed hundreds of freelance reporters at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival as an experiment in large scale, low cost content production. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has cited AOL of late as Yahoo’s closest rival, over Google.
Companies like Associated Content, Demand and Seed have raised fears among many that they are contributing to either a decline in quality or the deterioration of business in the journalism world. “That actually was a concern when we first went into this,” said Pitaro. However, after further examination, Pitaro said his team was impressed with quality of Associated’s work. And the company has the proven ability to drive traffic and attract top advertisers. For example, Associated Content has run campaigns for Chevrolet and AT&T.
One of its strengths has been in producing custom content for brands, something Yahoo plans to exploit. Pitaro said that Associated’s stable of contributors will enable it to produce far more branded entertainment vehicles that it is capable of currently.
“This will be a much more scalable approach,” he said. “Now, for us to invest in branded entertainment, it’s got to be a large program. What we can do now is partner with many more advertisers at lower cost.”