Think you know Yahoo? Well, you don’t. Ned Brody, Head of the Americas at Yahoo! (yes, that’s really his title) told AdAge that this this isn’t the 1990’s website we all remember – this is the new and improved, spiffy, glossy, high-tech Yahoo for the new millennium. And I know that sounded sarcastic, but I mean it.
Yahoo is working on a new way of delivering sponsored content using the Tumblr platform that they bought almost a year ago.
This is Yahoo Food. It’s one of two new Yahoo digital magazines (the other is Yahoo Tech) that combines sharp graphics with moving text blocks that create the feel of interactivity. It’s the kind of thing you expect on a tablet, but they’re doing it on the web.
The page layout is unique – totally grid style with a slider box in the first position. That first box has three options that slide in and out at a fairly rapid rate. Even the frame around the grid is food oriented. The very top navigation strip lists all of the Yahoo channels, then there’s a search box and below that food specific tags. The fourth tag has a dollar sign next to it to indicate that it leads to a full page of sponsored posts by Knorr.
What’s unusual is the action when you click. Instead of opening a new page, the page you’re on splits in the middle and the new content appears.
The text continues down the page, then the grid continues. You can click again and the page splits again revealing the text “underneath.” This is the Tumblr mechanism at work. It’s one never-ending stream of information smack down the center of the page. There are no sidebar or banner ads because the sponsored content posts are the ads.
Even though the ads are clearly defined with both the word Promoted and the AdChoices icon, it’s easy to view them as just another piece of content. And really, if it’s informative, does it matter whether a company paid to put it there? In this case, Knorr does an excellent job with a piece on easy, fine dining recipes – the majority of which don’t even include Knorr products. Try to resist Marcella Hazan’s Buttery Tomato Sauce with a half stick of butter in the sauce.
I was very impressed by the presentation and the quality of the content.
Getting back to Mr. Brody and his interview with AdAge, he had this to say about Yahoo’s multi-year climb back to greatness:
We now have 800 million users. We went up from 150 million mobile users at the end of 2012 to 400 million mobile users now. There’s a 14% increase in time spent on home page. The turnaround has really begun to take steam in the product side.
And he’s not concerned about the decline in display numbers.
No one ever said that that display number you’re looking at is the way for revenue to grow. Revenue is a portfolio of lots of different products: Stream Ads, programmatic ads, search, mobile. And with any portfolio, you have businesses that are continuing to grow and you have things that actually don’t grow as quickly. Look at the market in general. The core display businesses of the market are actually declining, while things like native and programmatic are growing.
Yahoo’s had some rough times but it looks like they’re on the right road now. The new pages are fresh and alive and they feel like they’re in sync with what’s happening in mobile. But one thing they haven’t given up on is search. Brody says, “search needs to continue to evolve for consumers and for advertisers. I think we’re committed to figuring that out.”
Yahoo may not win it, but they’re definitely still in it.