Yahoo has hired David Pogue, the well known New York Times tech writer, to head up a new expansion of Yahoo’s own tech coverage. This will likely include a new news website that’ll get rolled out at some point. Pogue is the latest high profile hire under CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure, and part of Yahoo's move aggressively into original content.
“It definitely is, I would say ... the biggest move Yahoo has made under Marissa Mayer, in terms of putting a stake in the ground, [to announce] that Yahoo is interested in creating editorial coverage,” says Tim Peterson, who covers digital media for Ad Age Magazine.
But hires like David Pogue - and creating digital content in general - can get expensive. And Yahoo will have to surmount a number of challenges to make its original content pay.
One, the site makes its money by selling advertising, but consumers are bored with ads.
“Banner ads are Yahoo’s bread and butter,” says Rebecca Lieb, analyst with Altimeter group. “The prices of banner ads are being pushed down because of a tendency called banner blindness – people just don’t look at them anymore,” she says, pointing to Yahoo’s recent flat earnings.
Problem number two: advertisers are getting bored with premium content..
“Remember on the web, advertisers are increasingly buying audiences,” not location next to programs or premium sites, says Brian Wieser with Pivotal research.
In other words, while advertisers in the past might have been satisfied buying an ad next to a show that 25 year olds might watch; today they want to reach a much more specific audience. For example, they might want their ad in front of 25 year olds who recently thought about buying a snowboard.
So if you’re going to sell ad space on your show or website, it really needs to stand out.
“The only way you can distinguish yourselves,” says Lieb, “and make content a must go to destination, is by having that personality, the celebrity, the influencer.”
If Yahoo can establish itself as a go to place for tech, for example, it can capture eyeballs for all its ads, but it can also experiment with different types of niche advertising. Tim Peterson can imagine Yahoo offering top firms a prestigious platform for their brands.
“Yahoo ad sales teams could sell sponorships or sponsored packages tied to this new consumer tech site – I could see a Samsung or a Motorola or an Apple doing this," he says.
That is, of course, if this new tech site succeeds in surmounting its third challenge: standing out in a very crowded landscape.