Yahoo’s De Castro Advocates for Personalized Content First, Ads Later

New COO outlines portal's vision at IAB event

Executive intrigue aside, most of the attention focused on Yahoo of late revolves around its advertising business rather than its content business. The Marissa Mayer regime seems intent on turning that attention the other way.

“A lot of the industry is focusing on personalizing ads. The ad is a subfactor. The main factor is content. If you don’t get the content right, you won’t get the ad right because you don’t have the audience [without content],” said Yahoo COO Henrique De Castro on Tuesday at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.

De Castro prescribed closer ties between content and ads, saying that “you don’t have a content experience and advertising experience, you have a total media experience.” He didn’t go full-BuzzFeed in saying that Yahoo would go the native ad route but did say that “ads and content are going to merge more and more.” And the emphasis was on content.

After running through the Web’s history from the content-laden Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, which saw the rise of search in helping people navigate the flood of content, De Castro detailed what Yahoo envisions as Web 3.0. “We believe Web 3.0 is going to be the personalized Web…about picking the right [articles] for you,” he said.

As part of the personalized push, De Castro referred to the recently redesigned Yahoo homepage that orients content inside a customizable feed, which in De Castro’s words takes “a huge sea of content and delivers it in a personalized way for each of our users.” He repeatedly cited Yahoo’s claim as the top online publisher carrying 700 million global unique visitors and echoed CEO Mayer’s description of Yahoo’s content properties as “daily habits” for users. He also offered up Yahoo’s goal “to be a platform for publishers where they can get scale with our platform.”