By David Gould, President
I recently had the unique opportunity to spend time with Jerry Yang (Chief Yahoo!) and Carol Bartz (CEO Yahoo!) in small group settings. The experience has been enlightening and encouraging. In mid-March, Jerry Yang invited about 12 people from a combination of agencies and advertisers in the Chicago area to breakfast. A week later, Carol Bartz hosted the leaders of seven search agencies for an open discussion in Yahoo’s New York office. I took away a number of important themes from these two meetings:
- Yahoo! is taking a fresh approach to the market place: The very fact that in a one week span, Yahoo created venues to engage agencies and advertisers is indicative of their desire to take a fresh look at the marketplace and Yahoo’s place in it. They are taking the same approach with their consumers.
- Yahoo! is simplifying its organization structure: Carol is focused on streamlining decision making and assigning clear responsibilities to enhance Yahoo!’s ability to react and be proactive in the dynamic marketplace. In her words, Yahoo grew up very quickly, in an ultra-dynamic marketplace with many young folks at the helm. The result is an organization with many layers, silos and shared responsibilities. Much like an application that continually has patches and updates applied to address bugs and new functionality, it eventually becomes too cumbersome to manage and a fresh new release is required to streamline the operation.
- Yahoo! recognizes the underlying value of search: Carol made it very clear that she sees the value of search in the underlying data and insight to consumer behavior that search provides. That insight is what provides value to the Yahoo! Network as a whole. Whether the search functionality is provided internally or outsourced in some fashion is irrelevant as long as they own the data and the associated insights. Yahoo!’s goal is not to conquer the search market, but to leverage search to enhance its total service offering. Which leads me to my next observation …
- Yahoo! is fed up with “Google-Envy”: For the past year, Yahoo! has been caught up in media frenzy of a deal with MSN. Their search market share seems to be the only metric by which the world measures their worth. Carol and Jerry are focused on getting both Yahoo! and the market and their employees to understand and value the plethora of other resources and assets that Yahoo! brings to the table.
- Yahoo! is committed to improving partner service levels: A common theme throughout both meetings was the desire to work more closely with its agencies and advertisers to bring products and services to market more efficiently and support existing products and services more effectively. That equates to a more robust agency support structure, a revised product roll-out process (specifically committed to by Carol for search) and enhanced partner communication.
Clearly, there is plenty to tackle. The good news is that, “Yahoo!, we’re all rooting for you!”