Yesterday the New York Times spoke of the ‘success’ of Yahoo during this election marathon that is thankfully winding up (I hope) in the next 48 hours. This election process has been a boon for news sites and the equivalent of a ‘millstone around the neck’ for people like me. How much more can one say or do or think or accuse or lie or point fingers about at this point? Apparently enough to make Yahoo beef up its coverage and anticipate a banner day.
Interestingly enough, the coverage of any election still has an old school feel. A lot of people turn to TV for their marathon Election Day live prognostications and exit polls and projections. Much like the phenomenon of traditional Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving and the following online “Black Monday” the real traffic for news sites occurs the day after the event as people try to make sense of what just happened. To me, it’s a little like watching a really bad football game. You watch it because your team is in it but you know you really should be doing something constructive with your time.
Yahoo is really more of an aggregator of news and their partnership with ABCNews makes them just a shill for that network and its coverage. They write some content but they draw most other content from the AP and a few other sources like Politico.com. What Yahoo brings to the table is interactive maps with projections (based on AP information of course) and other bells and whistles. The idea here is that people will be tracking the election outcome like a fantasy football team. I suppose even I will follow this thing but with a different eye than most. So you all know where I stand, I believe a politician is a politician is a politician regardless which side of the two party system you sit on. I think it will be most interesting to watch how different outlets try to spin things to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. The most likely victim in this whole thing will be the truth but, hey, who’s counting?
For Yahoo there is a lot at stake. Since it ranks among the top news sites on the net there are huge advertising dollars to rake in. Yahoo actually outperformed the MSNBC network of sites during the Olympics (which NBC televised so that shows how much people like the traditional networks). If Yahoo can set itself apart during this coverage it stands to help itself during a time when the news on Yahoo itself is not so good.
Here’s my question. Based on the banner year of ‘one time’ events like the Olympics and this campaign of Olympic marathon proportions what will Yahoo think it can get for advertising in the future? Will the numbers that this has generated (some projections place it at 3 times the volume following the last presidential election) translate into higher ad costs for advertisers or will the advertisers fight back with the argument that the numbers for 2008 are inflated? If I was an advertiser I would be fighting already. You know that Yahoo will make serious claims about its traffic etc but any thinking advertiser will ask them to get to the real numbers. Otherwise, they will be paying for phantom traffic based on a huge bubble created by this ‘event’. Should be interesting.