Yahoo's Consumer Campaign Focuses on Mobile, Answers

High-Growth Areas a Priority, Even Though Ad Revenue Is Small for Now

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Yahoo focuses on its early leads in mobile and social search for its latest ad effort, which breaks today. The consumer push, using the tagline "Life is a little bit better with Yahoo," highlights Yahoo Answers and One Search and will eventually involve other Yahoo properties, such as Yahoo Autos.

That Yahoo has chosen to focus its consumer-marketing efforts on Q&A and mobile points to what the company considers to be growth priorities.

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The campaign breaks just as Yahoo is under increasing pressure from Wall Street while also trying to project an image of innovation. Yahoo, like all portals, faces a similar growth problem in that it's fairly fully distributed. The key for growth is to attract existing and non-Yahoo users to adopt new services in order to grow audience and impressions.

Growth priorities
That Yahoo has chosen to focus its consumer-marketing efforts on these areas points to what the company considers to be growth priorities. While Yahoo continues to lag Google in search, it has passed its competitors in the mobile search area with 14.1 million mobile subscribers accessing e-mail, instant messaging, search, news, directory or weather categories using Yahoo sites, according to M:Metrics. It also has a booming business in its Q&A service, Answers.

The focus on those two areas indicates a build-it-for-consumers-and-we'll-figure-out-a-way-to-monetize-it-later mentality, something Google has often been credited with having. While there are big expectations for monetizing both mobile and social search, those areas have yet to become big cash cows and, especially in the case of mobile, real questions exist as to what consumers will accept when it comes to ads.

"Smart marketing today tries to come at it from the customer viewpoint in what we're trying to accomplish," said Allen Olivo, VP-global brand marketing at Yahoo. "What are our customers trying to do? It's our priority to take the advantage in new growth-emerging areas."

The portal tapped Ogilvy & Mather and Soho Square for the seven or eight figure campaign, appearing online and across a variety of offline media, including TV and radio.

Interacting ads
One of the campaign highlights: banner and skyscraper ads that interact with each other. In one execution, a banner ad for Yahoo Answers asks about the best way to straighten pictures hanging on a wall. The skyscraper running below it contains video with a confused homeowner pondering a wall of crooked frames and prompts users to click above to see the answer to the question with Yahoo Answers or without. Clicking "with Yahoo answers" (use the Robobeam 2600 level, it advises), activates the video below and the homeowner straightens the frames with the aforementioned laser level.

The company shot two TV commercials but with alternate endings to execute the in-banner video ads. Yahoo also created a video mash-up site where people can create their own commercials. It wasn't any more expensive than simply producing a TV spot because, said Mr. Olivo, they built it into the thinking upfront. "Then it's not a matter of 'Can we get this extra stuff?'" he said.

Three-day shoot
In a three-day shoot, two commercials were produced with online executions with alternate endings. On set, instead of shooting 30 or 40 takes of the same line or reaction, the crew got four or five takes they were comfortable with and had the actor do something different for the next take, said Nick Chavez, director-corporate marketing. "Sometimes we swapped different characters in. ... The video we shot to run in the skyscraper unit was a couple hours on set having different things happen."

The company will also use the campaign to boost internal morale. "We're up to around 12,000 employees and one of the things that jazzes our employees is outbound marketing and ad campaigns," Mr. Chavez said. The company previewed the campaign on its campus and is running an internal contest around it.
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