Yahoo Keeps on Content Path as Mayer Talks Mobile, Ads at CES 2014

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s highly anticipated (and attended, as hundreds waited in line to fill the 1,700-seat Las Vegas Hilton) 2014 CES keynote played like a show as she focused largely on entertainment, unveiling a new digital magazine, introducing her new star colleagues, Katie Couric and David Pogue, and serving up John Legend for a Beatles rendition. 

But the focus of Mayer’s talk didn’t stray far from content creation, announcing the addition of Yahoo News Digest, a twice daily summary of news that will include information from multiple sources and news outlets. In a similar space, Mayer introduced another new content product, Yahoo Digital Magazines, which will be Tumblr-powered sections on Yahoo News.

The first two “magazines”: Yahoo Tech, headed by former New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, and a Yahoo Food vertical. Mayer said digital magazines are core to the company’s strategic goals, indicating that the new projects will feed the ad beast with ad-funded content, but no display ads.

Another tech star is helping achieve Mayer’s vision: British teen genius Nick D’Aloisio, who sold his Summly app to Yahoo! for $30 million last year and joined the company as a mobile product manager. D’Aloisio explained in a blog post how he helped develop the Yahoo News Digest app, whose backers include Yoko Ono, Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher.[more]

Mayer also unveiled a new guide for Yahoo’s Smart TV efforts and announced the acquisition of Aviate, which organizes smartphone apps based on use.

Along with Couric and Pogue, Tumblr’s David Karp made a cameo discussing his brand’s sponsored ads now powered by Yahoo, as Yahoo SVP Scott Burke reprised the current roster of ad ventures including: Yahoo Audience, Yahoo Native Ads, Yahoo Ad Manager, and Yahoo Ad Exchange—all of which will live under the new Yahoo Advertising brand.

Since Mayer took the helm in 2012, jumping ship from Google to become Yahoo’s first female CEO, she has made the once left-for-dead company a stronger competitor to Google and Facebook with 15 product refreshes in Q3 last year and a big push in mobile, with Yahoo recently passing 400 million monthly mobile users. 

“For Yahoo and the wider industry, mobile is all about growth. By 2017 we expect 3.1 billion devices connected to the internet, nearly 2 billion more than we see today. And it’s what people do on their mobile phones that counts,” Mayer said. 

Yahoo also re-launched email, its homepage and Flickr, dumped two of its highest profile ad-tech products, Right Media and Genome, and made over 20 top-line acquisitions including Summly. 

As of October last year, the company reported 800 million monthly users worldwide, up 20 percent since Mayer became CEO. But when revenue fell 5 percent in the company’s latest quarterly report, Mayer told investors the company needed more time to deliver a convincing turnaround—a big part of which will be expanding the company’s ad offerings, starting with its new Yahoo Ad Manager buying platform.

Tumblr, as well, will see increased support from Yahoo ad products, boosting ad targeting capabilities for marketers based on gender, location, and other points. 

Dubbed “Yoohoo” by SNL cast member Kenan Thompson, who, along with fellow cast member Cecily Strong, performed a live “Weekend Update” sketch, it remains to be seen if the company will be able to maintain the same upward trajectory it has managed to launch under Mayer with the help of her new friends.

See more on Yahoo’s new content verticals below:

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