Yahoo!’s Plan: to Adopt Magazine-Like Advertising Style

63b48fd4a90b4110bafe9a98a85bd850When it comes to advertising, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s CEO, has been heavily influenced by fashion magazines like Vogue and InStyle.

In a recent interview, Mayer pointed out that this type of print medium had ads that were “as interesting as the photo shoots and the articles.” She went on to say that she misses the ads when they are not in the magazines, and that to her they are an essential part of the magazine. Ads on Yahoo! This year, her goal is to start ensuring that the ads appearing on Yahoo! are just as compelling as the ones appearing in these types of magazines. Mayer wants the ads to be just as integrated with the news and information that people are looking for on her company’s websites and mobile applications as those that appear in a glossy magazine.

For example, recipes from soup brand Knorr are run around articles from Yahoo! writers, food magazines and Yahoo! Food (the recently-launched digital magazine). Mayer was in charge of Google’s signature search products for a number of years, and she hopes to develop some search tools and ads which are geared to mobile users for Yahoo!.

Steps toward innovation. This is the company’s first steps toward innovating since 2010, when it began its 10-year deal to outsource search to Microsoft. Mayer stated recently that she was not sure that having a list of links that people would have to pick through would be the right experience for mobile users and that if the search engine is “going to start to play with context, there are other ways to address these search needs.”

Having better, more useful ads would be a more effective way to make Yahoo!’s 800 million monthly users and its advertisers more content. New ad formats will extend beyond the company’s traditional banner. Search ads are the company’s best chance of finding badly-needed sources of revenue after a number of years of decline.

Rebuilding Yahoo!’s ad business. Rebuilding the company’s advertising business will present a big challenge, and it’s one that has proven too much for a number of previous chief executives. Last month, Ms. Mayer fired her top ad executive, Henrique de Castro, who had been considered ineffective in his role. She said that she would take over the advertising efforts herself and continue to lead the rest of the company.

Her competitors such as Facebook, Twitter and Google are not waiting for her to catch up. They are actually busy taking shares from Yahoo!. The company’s rivals are particularly strong in the area of mobile devices, where Yahoo has been earning virtually no revenue although about half of its users access its services in that way.

Pushing forward. Mayer appears to be steadfast in her desire to push forward with her plan. She stated recently that the company has had great success in 2013 at putting a team in place as well as “building and launching new products.”

The company is very focused on revenue right now. Over the past several months, Yahoo has introduced several new advertising initiatives. Some of them make it easier for marketers to user automated programs to buy traditional ads and to take advantage of Yahoo’s data on its users to target its pitches.

Yahoo is also using Tumblr, the blogging site it bought last year, to help brands build their own promotional sites with content that can be promoted and shared with other Tumblr users. This strategy can be very effective when handled well.

Of course, ads must relate to the content around them to be effective. Creating a new revenue stream from scratch is a challenging prospect for any company. Facebook has proven that it can be done, though.

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