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Critics : Yahoo Reorg Not Radical Enough

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You know I agree with John Krystynak’s take – because earlier I accused wild and crazy Peanut Butter Man, Brad Garlinghouse, of “incrementalism.”

Shortly after that memo, Yahoo announced a reorganization. Krystynak thinks it’s missing the mark, as outlined in his post.

I sent John a note with some further points:

  • Agree on Semel. Technical chops are hard enough for a semi-tech-savvy younger more experienced manager to build up. Semel is none of the above, and efforts to learn would be like teaching me Swahili – it’s bound to be too little too late.
  • Absolutely on the need to acquire more ad inventory. I know it’s no easy matter, but it’s a matter of leadership and dire consequences if you don’t do it. Google risked major disaster thru the Youtube acquisition and the MySpace guarantee, but they did it “because they needed more places to put ads”. Plain and simple. I don’t care if Yahoo has to issue junk bonds, they have to get one of these deals done. Internally all the smart people at Yahoo seem demoralized at losing out on Youtube, Facebook, and anything else that may be up for grabs.
  • Including Efficient Frontier in the should buy category is pretty much just you logrolling for friends or people you’d like to see get rich, so I will ignore that one. :)
  • On YPN, the go broad plan is definitely what they seek to do – they’re all over this. But getting adoption is hard. Google arguably did not have its top people on AdSense, which is why it became such a mess (especially for advertisers) – it won anyway, because it got quick adoption. Nick Denton claimed that one of the top YPN folks is a “scenester”. Time’ll tell.
  • On the ease of dumping AdWords campaigns into the new YSM: this is an obviously key point for us in migration. Some of the Overture campaigns we manage are worse built than the AdWords campaigns, and will import more stupidly than the AdWords campaigns. However, this import from AdWords feature is already a working feature of the Panama implementation. There should be how-tos and seminars about this right now, but everything is happening in such a hurry. The default seems to be very compelling to just go with the overture-to-panama version but we would rather not do that in many cases, so, I’m looking into this and pondering the best way to tackle it. Here’s how it looks at the moment. You have to say “yes” to upgrading your old YSM account if you want to upgrade to Panama, but you probably won’t want to keep that account. So instead, download it all to a spreadsheet as a backup, then delete that stuff and go ahead and use the import feature to bring in your (probably superior) AdWords campaign. I hope that makes sense. :)

To all this, John sent a concluding point, which he gave me permission to quote. In part:

“The REAL problem with Yahoo is that they are so matrix managed molasses entombed that they CAN’T DO what they seek to do.

“They are too slow, too perfectionist, too gold plated, too contemplative.

“They are losing because of all that. That’s why even though Decker (from Blade Runner?) is an incremental improvement, Yahoo is in need of a Jobs-ian transformation. Semel is Gil Amelio, and nothing incremental at this point is gonna change the ponder-osity that plagues them.”

Now back to Goodman’s thoughts…

I wish it were prettier. But if you’re a search engine junkie, this stuff isn’t pretty. Yahoo as a whole is still one of the better companies in the world. But for search marketers? They have spirit and a new resolve – I’ve witnessed that first hand. The question is, though — do they have searches? You know, the stuff we want to rank in, and show ads next to.

Try this thought on for size. It’s a rough one. But if you don’t listen now, don’t worry: I’ll repeat it later, if I get confirmation from the real life numbers.

For years, metrics agencies have been overreporting Yahoo’s search market share numbers. So, we assumed, if we got tough with the numbers, Yahoo was “only” garnering around 25% market share in terms of raw web searches.

What if you woke up one day, looked in the server logs of a few hundred representative, popular vertical websites (ones that aren’t paying Yahoo for inclusion), and found… say… Yahoo’s market share is actually more like 10%! Or 6%! Or 5%. Could it happen? Is it already happening? It would explain a lot, if so. It would mean Yahoo has to somehow figure out a way to survive by serving and selling a whole lot of ads against online content. And that giving up on search might be part of the plan. It would be a sad day if it happened. But the numbers can’t be made to lie forever. Stay tuned.

If you’re not paying for inclusion, what percentage of your site’s visits come from organic Yahoo search?

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Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded Traffick.com, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.

Critics : Yahoo Reorg Not Radical Enough
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