Yahoo Expands Brand Universe Entertainment Project

Will Look to Build Dedicated Pages Around 93 Pop-Culture Hits

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- What do the Sims, "Lost," "Halo," "The Office," Harry Potter and the Transformers have in common?
Yahoo kicked off the Brand Universe program with a dedicated site for the Nintendo Wii.
Yahoo kicked off the Brand Universe program with a dedicated site for the Nintendo Wii.

Each of those buzz-creating properties will have its own area on Yahoo as part of a new strategy designed to make the most sought-after pop-culture topics easier for people to find. The move is also expected to create more inventory to sell to brand advertisers.

Dedicated pages
Vince Broady, head of Yahoo's games, entertainment and youth division, said Yahoo will cull its site to tag the biggest pop-cultural interests among its users -- judged on a certain critical mass and the audience's passion about the subject -- and take those areas of interest and build out a destination dedicated to each pop phenomenon.

Yahoo will aggregate various offerings related to those interests from throughout the site, including TV clips, dedicated chat rooms and outside consumer-created content. The idea is that enthusiasts of Harry Potter or "Lost" can get all the content related to those properties on one page instead of having to search out the web.

Yahoo is looking for brands that appeal to 13 to 34 year olds.

"Over time, we will monetize the relationships and sell advertising on" the pages, Mr. Broady said. Last fall, Yahoo kicked off the so-called Brand Universe program with a dedicated site for the Nintendo Wii. An additional 93 areas will be designed for Brand Universe over the year, he said.

Widening the universe
Yahoo said it might consider adding package goods or other types of non-entertainment marketers to the Brand Universe. "We might open it up to others," said Mr. Broady. For a brand like Pepsi, "might we create an environment for them -- yeah," said Mr. Broady. "But we're not doing that today."

Yahoo said it won't seek permission to launch the destination pages, nor will it share revenue with the pop hits. Instead, it will go about its business as it does with message boards that discuss brands or celebrities -- no licensing or pre-approval is required. "We can support those brands and create new opportunities for them," Mr. Broady said, but he added that any marketer complaining about Yahoo co-opting its property will be dropped from the program. "We will go onto another" brand, he said.

As Yahoo moves to become an entertainment brand of its own, the internet company is finding some interesting differences between audience demographics for TV vs. the web. CBS's "60 Minutes" might have a 55-plus adult consumer on TV, but the news magazine's Yahoo internet clips are among the most requested video streams with 30- to 40-year-olds.
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