Focusing on the science, art and scale that Yahoo can bring to bear, chief executive officer Carol Bartz pledged today to work more closely and efficiently with the media industry as the Web giant hits its 15-year anniversary.
Speaking during the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Transformation Conference in San Francisco, Bartz touted the science behind Yahoo that has allowed it to amass huge caches of data that can be churned into media intelligence.
"Every person at Yahoo is focused on insights, not hindsight," she said, adding that Yahoo's data mining has the power to make huge advances in both online and offline advertising.
"We have so much data at our fingertips; we're drowning in data," Bartz said.
Of course, data is a major hot-button issue in the online ad industry. Advertisers, publishers and agencies continue to spar over which party can claim ownership over Web user data. At the same time all parties are pushing to use data to improve the targeting capabilities of the medium, with the U.S. government watching with keen interest.
However, Bartz seemed as passionate about the creative talent and possibilities at Yahoo as she was about the data's potential.
"We have to think of the digital screen as a canvas," she said. "It's not [algorithm] driven; it's about bringing humans together."
In order to accomplish that with the media industry, Bartz discussed an initiative called "Digital Ad Ventures" that will push the creative envelope and "come up with some off-the-wall ideas." Video and monetizing more streams will continue to play a huge role in that effort.
"It's video, video, video as far as I'm concerned," said Bartz, who stressed that creating an immersive consumer advertiser experience is a key goal for Yahoo going forward. "It's crucial, because that's how [consumers] want to be informed. We're all over that."
Bartz offered Yahoo's scale as a huge lever for marketers, touting the Web giant's 600 million viewers and its content offerings ranging from the Olympics to finance.
In terms of Yahoo's search, however, Bartz did say that more scale is needed.
"It's clear to us that we need more scale, more innovation and a better fighting spirit," she said, pointing to Yahoo's pact with Microsoft as the solution to not only Yahoo's search issues, but also to a more competitive search market as well.
As an example of Yahoo's science, art and scale working to the advantage of an advertiser, Bartz pointed to her company's relationship with Walmart and its efforts to reach moms.
"We know where moms are online," said Bartz, who noted that Yahoo was able to show that it can reach 23 million moms 5.6 times per month, and that via Yahoo, seven out of 10 online moms see messaging per month.
In closing, Bartz addressed complaints that Yahoo is often difficult to do business with.
"We know we have to be more responsive," she said. "We have to work the friction out of our system.
Bartz said she has made some new hires that will help streamline customer service and even offered up her own e-mail address as an avenue to correct problems.
"Yahoo has a brand new attitude about being great to do business with," she said. "Our collective success depends on thinking big transformative ideas."
--Additional reporting by Mike Shields