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Yahoo! 'Drowning in Data'
By: Jeff Louis
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I've never ranted before, but I thought that I'd give it a try. Never mind. It takes too much energy. 

Like you, sometimes I see things that cause my brain to utter those three infamous letters: W, T, and F. Lately, it's been headlines, so after Yahoo's CEO stated the company was "drowning" in data, I thought it deserved a look. 

Yahoo, once considered a Web contender, is now known for Flickr, Yahoo! Search, and the Yahoo! Directory. The company just turned 15; it's hard to believe they've been around that long.

Online space is tricky (like K-Mart owning Sears and not the other way around) and can fool hard-core analysts. If you'd told me AOL would outlive Netscape 15 years ago, I would've thought you were crazy, yet AOL purchased Netscape in 1998, effectively killing the browser while AOL's heart still beats.

I honestly have no clue as to what AOL offers other than their instant-messaging service. I would have pegged Yahoo! for dead as well, but they, too, are alive and kicking, causing me to wonder who actually uses Yahoo! and AOL.

In Yahoo's defense, it seems like they have a strong Web-hosting presence for small- and medium-sized businesses. The service is relatively inexpensive, nearly turn-key, and works well if you don't go crazy designing it (this from personal experience).

Yahoo! is also the world's largest online display advertiser. Who knew? Yahoo.

According to Mediaweek, Yahoo's CEO Carol Bartz told an audience at a 4As conference in California, "Yahoo is sitting on a veritable goldmine of data that can be used to effectively target online advertising to the right audience."

Shouldn't Yahoo! have figured this out already?

They are the second largest search engine in the U.S. If I were Ms. Bartz, I don't know if I would bandy this about, but it might look a little shaky that, as CEO, I just discovered that we have a data surplus.

Ms. Bartz continued.

"We have so much data at our fingertips," she said. "We're drowning in data."

She then cited a recent Wal-Mart campaign as an example. The retailer wanted to reach moms online, and Yahoo showed it could reach 23 million mothers 5.6 times per month.

As a result, seven out of 10 online moms see Wal-Mart messaging per month through Yahoo's network of Web sites.

Here's the thing; A few years ago, some savvy online sites realized the information they collected from their sites' visitors was a "veritable goldmine." These sites could sell advertising to pay for the site and pass this savings on to the online consumer.

These "smart sites" began to organize that information, putting it in "buckets" so that the online consumers would be targeted based upon:

1.) Demographics (age, wealth, and education)

2.) Psychographics (activities, interests, and opinions)

3.) Geographics (locale)

Once the online sites figured out who (hypothetically) their visitors were, they could then shoot them an ad about something the consumer cared about, creating what would hopefully become a meaningful interaction.

Although she was slow on the uptake, Bartz, to her credit, seemed to catch on quickly, which is probably the reason she was placed at the helm.

"It's video, video, video as far as I'm concerned," said Bartz, who repeated that creating a immersible consumer advertiser experience is a key goal going forward. "It's crucial, because that's how [consumers] want to be informed. We're all over that."

Yeah, Yahoo's "all over that."











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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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