Tuesday, November 18, 2008

OnlineSpin: Yang Steps Down At Yahoo -- Now What?

Last week Joe wrote "A Marketer's Dilemma."

Gabriel Armstrong wrote, "Wow. Thank you for stating the difficult truth about social marketing -- something that we marketers need to really impress on our clients.

The pressure to be in the social marketing realm weighs heavily on many of my clients and, yet, some of them are the 'ugly duckling brands' that have yet to be recognized as swans. At this point, bringing them to the dance will only result in disappointing response and a reluctance to revisit this arena for far too long into the future.

Rather than throwing them into uncharted waters, we need to act as mirrors, allowing them to see who they truly are, embrace that truth, and then move into the social arena with confidence.

There are media 'parties' we can bring them to now, and some that we need to prepare them for.

We are more than facilitators of social introduction, we are the mentors that will guide them skillfully. A great opportunity in a growing community of media interaction."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Yang Steps Down At Yahoo -- Now What?
By Joe Marchese

First off, I want to dispel all those rumors going around out there. I will not be taking over as the new Yahoo CEO and will not be taking calls from Heidrick & Struggles regarding the position. Now that that's out of the way...

I might be the only person on the planet who isn't sure that Jerry Yang stepping down is really the best thing. The defining drama during Yang's stint as CEO this time around was the on-again/off-again talks with Microsoft. OK, so the stock price today would suggest that deal should have been taken, if it was ever really on the table, but that's over now. Move on. What Yahoo needs to do now is asses all of its incredibly valuable pieces and figure out how the whole of Yahoo can add up to more than the sum of its parts to offer unparalleled value to people and marketers alike. The question is, who is the best person to do that? I'm not sure -- but I'm also far from certain that a new CEO magically sees the whole picture.

Abbey Klaassen and Michael Learmonth over at Ad Age do an amazing job of outlining why Yahoo cannot be overlooked from a marketer's point of view in "Why Yahoo Still Matters for You," which actually went to press only hours before the story of Jerry Yang stepping down broke (ironic, huh?). The piece focuses on the nearly unmatched scale offered by Yahoo to marketers. To put it in perspective, the authors point out that "according to Chrysler, a home-page buy on Yahoo is worth 75 TV ratings points -- the equivalent of four 30-second spots in a hit prime-time show such as ABC's 'Desperate Housewives."'

If you are a marketer of any major brand you can't afford to ignore scale like that, especially when DVRs are showing up in more households everyday. But scale alone won't save Yahoo, and certainly isn't all Yahoo has to offer. People are quick to cite Yahoo's shortcomings in social media, but I think everyone needs to be reminded that Yahoo controls some of the largest social media assets on the Web: Yahoo Mail and Yahoo IM, just to name a couple, with millions upon millions of people who had profiles on Yahoo long before social networks were all the rage. What Yahoo is in a position to do, better than maybe anybody else, is tie together these various tools to offer marketers integrated online marketing campaigns. Yahoo could make advertising social, maybe...

Before Yahoo can hope to unlock the potential for marketers by combining its scale and various social assets, it has to  first figure out how it is going to better stitch together a social experience for people using Yahoo tools. Because, like any other media, concentrating on a better core experience for people will lead you to the best (read: most profitable long-term) integration for marketing.

If you ask me -- and you did, by reading this far ;-) -- Yahoo has an amazing opportunity to offer a new way people engage with the social Web, and therefore an amazing opportunity to define how social advertising should be done. But Yahoo had better hurry, because email and IM threaten to be replaced by messaging on social networks and white-label IM solutions or aggregators. How can you incorporate community, email, banners and IM into a singular campaign to make it more engaging for an individual and more valuable for a marketer? I don't know off the top of my head, but I bet Yahoo has most of the pieces...

Joe Marchese is President of socialvibe.

Online Spin for Tuesday, November 18, 2008:

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