No. 7 Yahoo!

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Yahoo! launched itself into the public consciousness by offering free e-mail for life. It was a brilliant move for a site that now generates more than 100 million unique visitors every month and has evolved into a leading venue for both consumer and b-to-b marketers, as its recent financial performance will attest. The company reached $5.3 billion in revenue last year, up 47% over 2004.

Today of course, Yahoo! offers much more than e-mail. The site is both a portal and a search engine, among other things. As a portal, it offers users the ability to customize information. In many ways it has become a simulacrum of the daily newspaper, offering visitors the ability to configure the site to provide the news, sports, weather and financial information they want.

Yahoo! creates little content itself; its strength is using technology to configure aggregated content in the manner the reader desires. Two key areas where it excels are in its Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Autos areas.

"You look at Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Autos, and they're at the point where they're sold out now," said John Keck, senior VP-direct and interactive media director at Doner. "It's almost a bidding war."

Enterprise software company CA has used Yahoo! Finance to reach technology influencers, said Michael Paradiso, CA's global media director. "We've worked with Yahoo! Finance for some branding," he said. "It performed very well in terms of using specific content and being able to target by job and company size."

That's what separates Yahoo!'s large audience from television and other broadcast media. On Yahoo! and other Internet sites, a marketer is not reaching the audience all at once with a single broadcast message; the marketer is cherry-picking the audience, reaching the precise target with a message geared distinctly for them.

"It's one person at a time, and that one person at a time makes a difference," Keck said.

In addition to contextual advertising offerings, Yahoo! offers search engine marketing, which provides a strong revenue stream to the company. In March, Yahoo! greatly increased the percentage of its searches that contain a sponsored keyword: Those searches grew to 59.7% from 48.7% a year earlier, according to comScore Media Metrix. Additionally, Yahoo! yielded 180 million sponsored clicks for advertisers in March, up 30% from a year earlier.

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