Yahoo Tech, when it goes live today, will be the media group's first major launch in five years since it re-branded Launch as Yahoo Music, and will serve as a model for content plays going forward. Tech is a consumer site focused on helping users figure out how to buy and use consumer electronics and software in their lives. Think CNET for soccer moms. Or epinions meets Consumer Reports.
The concept, which has been six months in development, is built for a "big, broad audience," Elizabeth Harz, category development officer for Yahoo Media Sales' technology and telecommunications categories, said. "It's about making technology easier to understand -- choosing and using products."
A large piece of $953 million
Ms. Harz also hopes it will help marketers talk to a different constituent. The charter advertisers, who will have exclusivity for three weeks, include Verizon, Hewlett-Packard and Panasonic, which will mostly market its TVs. Yahoo Tech hopes to capture a large piece of the $953 million that consumer electronics, technology and telecomm companies spend online, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
With Tech, Yahoo has identified the three-part content strategy that includes aggregated, licensed content, user-generated content and original content -- the latter of which Mr. Braun has called the "salt and pepper on the meal" rather than the engine driving Yahoo.
"They've really listened to the last six months of what everybody's asking for in the online space," said Joel Lunenfeld, VP-media services at Moxie Interactive. He notes that professionally produced sites such as CNET or Salon have begun to add user-generated content through blogs and message boards while user-generated sites, such as MySpace and YouTube, are beginning to welcome more professionally produced content. Yahoo Tech is starting off with a mix of both types. Mr. Lunenfeld says it's a smart model for Web 2.0.
Tech makeover show
Yahoo, however, hasn't completely abandoned its original TV programming on the Web ambitions. A major Braun stamp is present on the weekly short-form video program, "Hook Me Up." The program is produced by Michael Davies, who worked with Mr. Braun at ABC on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Wife Swap." "Hook Me Up" is the first digital-only program out of Mr. Davies' new digital production shop in downtown Manhattan. The host, Becky Worley, is a regular contributor to ABC's "Good Morning America" and CNN. The program is a technology makeover show -- in the first episode a commuter who used to compose e-mails by hand while riding the train into work is equipped with a Palm LifeDrive, a compact keyboard and wireless headphones.
"We're not about to compete with the broadcasters with a prime-time show we roll out online," said Scott Moore, VP-Yahoo Media Group. "But there is an opportunity to create original content, both text and video."
Like those prime-time broadcast shows, there will be opportunity for brands to integrate into the programming. The products used as part of the makeover won't be paid placements, although a shopping trip at a particular big box consumer electronics retailer or Ms. Worley using a Verizon Wireless phone would comply with Yahoo's editorial guidelines, executives said.
The aggregated content for Yahoo Tech will come from established media brands such as John Wiley's "For Dummies" book series, IDG's PC World, Ziff Davis' PC Magazine and McGraw-Hill publishing. The user-generated content will come primarily from Yahoo's shopping site, which has about 300,000 tech products each accompanied by dozens of user reviews, and Yahoo Answers, which will fuel a question-and-answer section in Yahoo Tech. Already Yahoo Groups has several million users posting to tech-related discussions.
Original content will come largely from a small group of bloggers, who are given titles like "The Mom" (Dory Devline, a freelance journalist with three kids), "The Working Guy" (Mobile PC magazine founder Christopher Null, who advises on office gear), "The Boomer" (USA Today columnist Robin Raskin) and "Techie Diva" (30-something Gina Hughes, who will focus on trendy gadgets).