Do you Yahoo!?
Congratulations if you answered in the affirmative; you're a member of an elite group. While Yahoo! users aren't anywhere near an endangered-species list, the search engine/online portal's traffic has fallen steadily.
Ironically, I posted an article last week after Yahoo!'s CEO Carol Bartz decided to give Google some business advice. In an interview with the BBC, Bartz noted Google was too focused on search, as 99 percent of that company's revenue came from search. At Yahoo!, half of overall revenues stem from search.
Isn't there a saying about doing something but doing it well?
The Wall Street Journal published the latest comScore data and noted Yahoo!'s slide. While in the middle of the "search pack" in the United States Yahoo!'s global network covers 20 countries and 70 Web properties.
Mainly a result of purchases, Yahoo! has been criticized for being unwieldy, yet their strategy continues. In early April, news circulated that Yahoo!'s latest love interest was foursquare, which is valued between $100 million and $125 million. Bartz, however, has remained mum. (Last month foursquare surpassed 1 million users and is reportedly being courted by Facebook, Microsoft, and venture capitalists.)
Yahoo! has purchased their share of other companies -- 53 since 1997 -- at a cost of $13.1 billion. While some like Flickr remain, many were killed outright. The others likely ceased due to poor management. TechCrunch, after learning of a possible foursquare/Yahoo! deal, vehemently warned against it, labeling the latter as a place where "startups go to die."
However, Yahoo! has addressed the falling-traffic issue. To help boost awareness and win back lost traffic, they've launched an $85 million dollar ad campaign, with the majority of dollars spent on offline advertising, namely TV and out-of-home.
The campaign focuses on sites that compete with Yahoo! for traffic, like Facebook and Google. The Google spot depicts a white Web page that features a search box in the middle; otherwise, the entire page is blank. A voice-over announces, "When you look at this home page, nothing looks back at you."
The spot states that Google is a site centered on taking you somewhere else.
Last year, Yahoo! invested $100 million in an offline campaign crafted by Ogilvy that failed miserably. Ogilvy was sacked, and Goodby Silverstein took over. Historically, online advertisers don't fare well offline, and I fear that Goodby's days with Yahoo! are numbered.
The lesson we should have taken out of the dot-com debacle in the late 90s is offline advertising doesn't tend to affect online traffic. One of the spots before the dot-com companies went under -- Cat Herders (EDS) -- remains one of my favorite spots.
Like cave-wall drawings, the images live on long after their creator vanished.