News / Economy

    Yahoo CEO Mayer has Advertisers' Attention, but Can She Get Their Dollars?

    FILE - The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. FILE - The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.
    x
    FILE - The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.
    FILE - The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.
    Reuters
    ​Three weeks ago, Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer strode into a Manhattan hotel and was greeted like a rock star by hundreds of advertising executives who snapped pictures as she sat down for an interview with journalist Charlie Rose.
     
    That same audience a year ago would have been grousing that Mayer had not done enough to engage Madison Avenue, which is arguably Yahoo's most important constituent since the Internet company derives more than 75 percent of its revenue from ad sales.
     
    “I think that Marissa has gotten a bit of a bad rap,” said David Cohen, the chief media officer at UM, the global media arm of Interpublic Group.
     
    The industry perceived Mayer as not caring about advertising, choosing instead to focus solely on products, Cohen said.
     
    Ad agency executives say that over the past six months Mayer and her team have been working hard to change that perception, courting advertisers at key industry events, hosting lunches and attending meetings with agency representatives that include Yahoo excutives like Chief Operating Officer Henrique de Castro, Senior Vice President and head of Americas Ned Brody and Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt.
     
    FILE - Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during a news conference in New York.FILE - Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during a news conference in New York.
    x
    FILE - Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during a news conference in New York.
    FILE - Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during a news conference in New York.
    The charm offensive has impressed many on Madison Avenue, but getting advertisers to actually spend more on Yahoo's Web properties will not happen overnight, industry experts said.
     
    The shift to advertising exchanges, which allow marketers to instantly buy placement for their ads across a broad constellation of websites, has pushed down the prices that online publishers such as Yahoo can charge.
     
    That was painfully apparent in the second quarter of this year, when Yahoo's display advertising revenue slid 11 percent due in part to a double-digit decline in ad prices.
     
    “Advertisers will become more excited if there's clear evidence that Yahoo is growing again in terms of its users and its engagement,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
     
    Since Mayer became CEO, Yahoo's stock has more than doubled, recently reaching a near 8-year high of $35.06. But analysts say the gains are mostly due to aggressive share buybacks and the impending initial public offering of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, in which Yahoo owns a 24 percent stake.
     
    More than a year into Mayer's tenure, Yahoo's core business remains stagnant. Revenue has been flat or down for the past four years and Wall Street does not expect the situation to improve when Yahoo reports its third-quarter results on Tuesday.
     
    Analysts are expecting third-quarter revenue to decline around 1 percent to $1.08 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
     
    A Yahoo representative said the company has built a team to specifically focus on agency relationships and has recently realigned its sales force according to industry expertise.
     
    Yahoo is “working closely with our advertisers to develop opportunities in a more integrated way across our full suite of media, programmatic, video and mobile properties,” Yahoo said in an emailed comment.
     
    Mobile target
     
    Yahoo is trying to play catch-up to Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Google Inc in the fast-growing mobile advertising business, as consumers increasingly access the Web on smartphones instead of PCs, and flock to social media websites that require novel ad formats.
     
    Spending on mobile ads grew 145 percent year over year to $3 billion in the first six months of 2013, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau.
     
    Mayer has revamped many of Yahoo's mobile apps to make them more attractive to consumers and advertisers. In May she spent $1.1 billion to acquire Tumblr, a popular blogging and social media website.
     
    “There's a promise there but it's not ready for prime time today,” said Ritu Trivedi, managing director, digital marketplace at MediaVest, a Publicis media agency, referring to Yahoo's mobile ad efforts.
     
    Mayer has said that turning Yahoo's business around will be a multi-year process. She has accelerated the pace of product development, and added workplace perks such as free food and top-of-the-line smartphones for employees.
     
    But even as the CEO tries to forge closer ties with advertisers, she has made it clear that Yahoo's users come first. That is a big change from the old Yahoo, which was famous for loading its websites with advertising that critics said were overly intrusive and detrimental to the user experience.
     
    For instance, Yahoo's new mobile weather app, which takes basic weather feeds and links them with the Flickr photo-sharing service, has sparked interest from advertisers. The app could be particularly appealing to hotel and retail marketers, said Peter Stein, CEO of Razorfish, a digital marketing agency.
     
    So far however, Yahoo has kept the weather app ad-free.
     
    “There message has been very direct and on point, they are definitely focused on the consumer,” said Ari Bluman, chief digital investment officer in North America for WPP's  media buying arm GroupM.
     
    Consumers first
     
    Some ad experts say Mayer's prioritization of users before advertisers is a smart move that could ultimately pay off by increasing Yahoo's popularity with consumers. But others say it may not go over well on Madison Avenue in the short term.
     
    For instance, Yahoo did a major overhaul of its popular sports home page to coincide with the start of the NFL season this year. One advertising agency executive said they found out about the change a week before the launch, and so the agency had to scramble to re-design ads that would fit with the new format.
     
    “Our client was very upset,” said the executive, who did not want to be identified because the agency works closely with Yahoo. “I have a six-page typed memo about the problems we had with Yahoo and this one client.”
     
    A Yahoo representative said that the company has “moved faster in the past year than anytime in our recent history” to launch better products and to “evolve” the ads on its websites. “We think this will improve performance for our advertisers over time, and we're working closely with our advertising partners.”
     
    Still, the overall assessment of Mayer is positive.
     
    Tamara Bousquet, senior vice president of media at digital marketing agency DigitasLBi, recalled a dinner she attended in late September with other advertising executives where Yahoo was the topic of conversation. “Every single person around that table thought the company was handled better since Marissa came on board,” she said.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9017
    JPY
    USD
    104.72
    GBP
    USD
    0.7594
    CAD
    USD
    1.3160
    INR
    USD
    67.046

    Rates may not be current.