Yahoo should invest in products, not advertising


For 10 years, Yahoo was my default home page.  Now I can barely stand using the site.  I still use it for Finance and Flickr, but that’s it. The new home page design has windows popping up everywhere and mind numbing celebrity gossip up top.

Now we learn Yahoo is going to spend $100 million on an advertising campaign.  The slogan is “It’s Y!ou” which sounds like one of those meaningless taglines invented by PR firms.  I’m quite sure no one will remember it and their money will be wasted (quick, name the tagline of any big tech company).

By CEO Carol Bartz’s own admission, Yahoo is incredibly well known, especially outside of techie circles:

When you get outside of New York City and Silicon Valley, everybody loves Yahoo…. We do great things for [users] and we’re excited about what we are.

Yes, Yahoo has one of the best brands on the web. Which is precisely why they shouldn’t be spending $100M on branding.  That’s the last thing Yahoo needs.  What they need are new technologies, new revenue streams, and new products that people love.  If they can’t build those things themselves, then they should acquire them.  They’re coasting on inertia right now.  As we saw with AOL and countless other tech companies before them, that inertia will be lost if they fail to innovate.

I think the Yahoo-Bing search deal is a great thing for startups as it potentially makes search competitive again.  But as a longtime Yahoo user it makes me kind of sad.  Between the branding campaign and the search deal, it feels like Yahoo has thrown in the towel.

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