Planning screens

A Nobody’s View on Yahoo

Posted 10 months ago

Much like Jon Snow, I know nothing. However, there’s a few things I think about Yahoo that haven’t been addressed by the coverage of its stalled turnaround and sale process, as well as some ideas for what I’d do with their offerings.

Let’s dig in.

No Way to Get Paid

Missing

Although most other web platforms provide some way for brands to get a return in exchange for pumping cash into them, there’s nothing that Yahoo does at the moment that would lead any major traffic/growth drivers to divert investment to them.

Google has YouTube revenue share, the well branded and industry accepted self-serve AdWords (with Analytical tools to show off ROI), capital-efficient corporate email and data storage tools. Facebook has that same platform-effect advertising solution, audience building tools and an organic way for publishers/brands to generate traffic.
Heck, even Twitter allows for user curation, lead generation and advertising ROI.

Yahoo? A search engine that isn’t theirs, no real “platform” to third parties to hook into or get benefit from, and no cohesive advertising brand for self-serve around their content, the closest obvious solution is AdSense on your Tumblr.

What do they need? They need to highlight why their tools will make/save businesses cash. That way they can piggyback off all of those brands who will be directing users and attention their way, take a cut in the middle and be a “net benefit” (pun intended).

Mail

Missing

Although there’s still billions who don’t (and, arguably, Yahoo would be well served to team up with mobile telecoms providers in developing countries to get people who are only on mobile/SMS into email accounts...), most existing web users already have email addresses, why would they need more?

As much as everyone is still trying to call for its death, email is still *the* killer app. People use it for hearing about company updates, promotions, sharing rich media and text updates, and learning more about the world. Pretty much an organic blend of social media and web content - both at the apex of what Yahoo does.

A subtle shift in the messaging around it and the interface and it could still win, especially since users are now used to interacting with a plethora of messaging apps on mobile. Have it as a life planning tool? Have it as a pseudo social network? Several different options, but just selling it as an alternative to Gmail and Outlook might not cut it.

Also, newsletters, podcasts and online video are ever growing in popularity - how about you offer readability/viewer analytics to brands, distribution tools and subscriptions services (e.g. landing pages, online spaces for signups and curation), in return for exposure for the Mail offering? Open up the API like Google has done with Gmail, and allow integrations with other tools, getting those users onto the platform too.

Content Stream

Missing

The homepage of Yahoo is a clickbait haven, but worse than that, it’s not even relevant to me. There’s so much great (and questionable) content produced across their network, and a shit tonne more across Tumblr, that could be algorithmically surfaced a la Facebook.

Then can get a creative team to work on a few verticals of native advertising, create a few content sub brands with a distinctive voice, let them standalone but curate centrally (maybe on a Tumblr+ CMS offering, designed for mobile), hook in subscriptions with the mail service, as well as original user generated content that can be rewarded with revenue share and you’ve just spiked a content powerhouse.

eSports / Fantasy Sports / Trending Events

Missing

The buzzword at the moment is “Live”. Twitch for a billion, Twitter going all in, Facebook offering livestreaming - depending where on the platform/publisher scale they want to be, Yahoo would be wise to acquire a company like Pandascore to get live esports data, then can offering both streaming solutions to companies. Extend this to developers to build integrations on top of, naturally getting more people to feed into it and generate those engaged audiences (to sell those sweet, sweet brand partnerships to).

More on the event side, can then offer those sorts of services to conference and industry event teams (data, streaming, analytics, sign ups, content marketing…), fleshing out those enterprise content verticals, and along with that comes data, scale and native advertising partnerships.

Conclusion

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I still know nothing, but I think Yahoo needs to sell their benefits better than they are now. Luckily, their brand isn’t as tarnished as others are, and with a new generation coming through who would never have known a dominant search engine other than Google, they can hook into new markets without *too* much baggage.

But the core question still needs to be addressed: what is Yahoo and why do they exist? A digital technology platform with a consumer content angle seems the most obvious, but it’s offering things that people will pay for that will keep the valuation up, rather than just empty scale.

by Steve Farnworth

Steve Farnworth is a petrolhead, coffee drinker, amateur chocolatier, web developer and digital marketer from England, UK.

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