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Yahoo CMO Kathy Savitt Talks SXSW, Music and Strategy

On lookout for tech and talent

CMO Kathy Savitt and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer attend Yahoo! On The Road at Turner Hall on May 12, 2013 Photo: Getty Images

Yahoo! CMO Kathy Savitt is heading the expanding editorial properties at her company, which has launched some new digital magazines and hired a slate of big-name media players like Katie Couric. Savitt was in Austin for SXSW and Yahoo took over Brazos Hall on one corner of the city to hoist its purple flag. Adweek caught up with Savitt at Yahoo’s rooftop lounge to find out what’s next from the company and what she sees coming out of this year’s festival.

On Yahoo’s approach to content:
We call it our digital magazine strategy, and magazine is somewhat of a euphemism. It is really a multiplatform deep dive into subject matter that our users are most passionate about. So we launched with Yahoo Food for foodies and aspiring foodies. And we launched Yahoo Tech for people who want to make sense of gadgetry and the development of tech, and we will in the coming months have a series of other verticals whether they’re in fashion or travel or beauty or politics or fantasy sports.

On Yahoo’s strategy to attract marketers:
The digital magazine is the best example of how native advertising works at scale, and it’s a really creative canvas for brand marketers to tell their stories alongside really deep areas of reporting.

On digital video:
We have a new product out called Yahoo Screen, which gives you a glimpse into how we view a curatorial video experience. We have video deeply integrated not only into Yahoo’s front page but also it’s becoming a big part of our digital magazines.

On original programming:
You will see in 2014 and beyond we think some really smart, inspiring, provocative original new shows coming from Yahoo, and we’ll announce our initial slate at the digital newfronts at the end of April.

On SXSW:
I come to listen and learn. There are a lot of smart people from three vertical groups that are really important to Yahoo, one being music because music is an important daily habit that we focus on at Yahoo, another being sports, which [SXSW] just expanded to have a whole sports module, and the third is startups.

On her SXSW focus:
We are looking a lot at some of the content technology companies. ... We’ve been looking at wearables and how to program wearables for certain content that could be uniquely fitted for wearables, and quite frankly we’ve just been looking for raw talent of engineers.

On Yahoo’s interest in music:
For the last year and a half to two years we really focused on those 15 or so things people do every day and making them so delightful for our users, and music is the soundtrack for every daily habit we have … You will see more and more coming out of our music thinking, our content and editorial strategy in 2014, but I can’t say any more than that.
 

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