I missed Terry Semel because I was stuck in traffic but I was able to catch Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo! COO, Lloyd Braun, Head of Yahoo! Media Group, and Jeff Weiner, SVP Search & Marketplace.
(Please excuse the fragments, typos and incomplete thoughts. These are pretty-much unedited, real-time notes)
The theme of all the presentations was that no competitor has the combination of assets: platform, brand, content and reach.
Yahoo best positioned to offer a full range of ad inventory and consumer experiences that deliver the most value to both audiences. He discussed a M:I:3 campaign which reached 30 million users in one day as an example of Yahoo!’s reach.
He stressed Yahoo!’s versatile “platforms,” its community and personalization capabilities. He discussed Yahoo!’s efforts to “move beyond the browser” into mobile (Go) and said that Go will be available on the majority of java enabled phones in the near future. He said that Yahoo! was working with 160 carriers globally.
Like Eric Schmidt, the emphasis was on the future growth opportunity in mobile beyond the PC platform. Rosensweig said that “every device would be both an input and output device.”
He talked about Yahoo!’s monetization of mobile. They are testing banners, sponsorships, paid search on mobile and PPCall.
Like Rosensweig before him, Braun displayed a “competitive matrix” that reflected the following categories: traditional media, portals, social networks and a range of competitive criteria: content, community, personalization, search and audience reach. He argued, “Nobody has all five elements together, except Yahoo!”
According to Braun: in a world of limitless choice – community and personalization the key differentiators for Yahoo!
The Internet is not television; it’s not a "passive medium."We are not building these products for sony; we have to build products with advertisers in mind.
Interestingly Braun lowered expectations about original content creation on Yahoo! He said that Yahoo! original content would be “the salt and pepper on the meal rather than the meal itself.” He added that with its traditional media partners Yahoo is extending reach of those traditional media and extending reach to younger audiences
Braun said that the integration of content and tools with scale will be a big competitive advantage over the long term.
Braun outlined 2006 strategic imperatives:
- Build robust platforms
- Ad simplification: standardizing ad formats
- Aggregation system: consolidated content, presented wherever relevant across site
- Inline video player
- Roll out Yahoo!’s “scalable publishing platform”
He discussed the Yahoo! Finance “badge” as an example of Yahoo! content syndication.
Braun ended with strategic goals/imperatives: Maximize user-generated content across all sites. Entice the user to become the creator. Target niche audiences. Enable users to publish across mainstream media players. "We’ll turn tail content into head content" (through exposure and distribution) — and that has the capacity to become viral and far more easily monetized.
He re-articulated the Find, Use, Share and Expand (FUSE) mantra and cited a bunch of statistics:
- 70+ global search reach
- 700m uniques globally
- 1 bn queries per day with Asia the fastest growth sector
- Search CAGR 30%
Weiner talked about Yahoo!’s “first mover advantage” in social search to generate a “network effect.” Goal: obtain a critical mass of high-quality user generated content and distribute that content on and off the network. He also stressed metadata to improve the search experience.
Weiner discussed that they put an Answers module (similar to the Finance “badge”) in Yahoo! Groups. Trying to leverage Yahoo! Groups to generate content for Answers. Datapoint: Yahoo! Groups has “6 million groups;” Answers has “7 million unique users.” Answers now out of beta with 10 million answers.
Weiner stressed del.ic.ious as a social bookmarking platform. Interestingly, he didn’t discuss Yahoo!’s homegrown product MyWeb. Update: he just mentioned it in passing and said there was a redesign coming.
As the “fourth pillar” of social search, Weiner discussed “social media.” The example he used was Flickr (talked about Flickr's "cuture of generosity" — this comes from Burning Man).
He previewed a new version of Yahoo! Video with much more community content. The only other video competitor in the space Weiner referenced was YouTube (a potential Yahoo! acquisition target — me not him saying this).
Regarding monetization: Weiner said it was still “early days” and cited a range of standard monetization opportunities.
Weiner argued that social media/social search would grow Yahoo!’s search market share and cited a Taiwan-based example of how Yahoo! Knowledge Search there boosted Yahoo!’s general search market share there.
My reactions: Yes, Yahoo! has a range of assets that in total probably nobody else online has and the “social media” vision is right. But now that Google, MSN and AOL have moved/are moving into the arena of user-generated content will that be enough of a differentiator going forward? And aside from Flickr and del.ic.ious can Yahoo! realize its ambitious vision to bring users into content creation across the entire network? The theory is right on, executing is very hard.
One curiousity: no mention of MyYahoo! I fear this is a missed opportunity if they let their leadership here falter.
Search VP Tim Cadogan provided much more detail about paid-search enhancements (Panama). It was a dizzying array of specifics, which I will need to revisit in order to make any coherent statements about. But among other things, he said that in their conversations with advertisers geotargeting was the priority request. The improvements allow better targeting by:
- Radius around zip
- All represented on a map
The Whereonearth acquisition is the basis of the upgraded geotargeting. He also stressed that Yahoo! web hosting would be an increasingly effective channel for SME advertiser acquisition going forward.
Cadogan CODA: 40% of queries being local (explicit and implicit) "is in the ballbark" says Cadogan (in response to a question from the audience.) CFO Decker: "local targeting the most important" to the system.
Jack MA (CEO of Alibaba) — "2 to 3 million SMEs in China."