Yahoo gives event microsites the royal treatment

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Jessica Jensen, Yahoo's VP-women's lifestyles and Shine (a Yahoo site aimed at women), heads the women's lifestyle channel at Yahoo. She is overseeing the channel's Royal Wedding coverage. (Bear with us: Jensen's approach has applications for other online media companies, including b-to-b.) She spoke to Digital Directions about the success the company has had with “tent-pole-event” microsites, about leveraging Yahoo's international presence and how social media tools can convert virtual wedding-goers into loyal consumers of Yahoo content.

DD: What have been the most effective channels for promoting your coverage?

Jensen: We use [an interactive] guestbook [on our site] and reach people through Facebook and other social networks to drive traffic. We've offered a vacation [contest] for people who share comments, and the Yahoo front page is an avalanche of traffic.

DD: Metrics from other microsites have reflected increased audience engagement, and the U.S. Royal Wedding site has drawn more than 6 million unique users. What is driving growth?

Jensen: We invested in editorial content. We also made investments in our front-page technology and programming. We tailor the front page to you, driving engagement growth through personalization. We continue to add functionality around photo galleries and video, and [to] extend our content partnerships. We are making these tent-pole events a major part of our media offering.

DD: What new capabilities did you leverage for the Royal Wedding?

Jensen: The wedding guestbook is an example of an engaging interactive content experience that we activate simultaneously through social networks. It's a way to build an audience that we can retain. Having people leave a comment, join the contest and become a Facebook fan of Shine, which is the host for the Royal Wedding in the United States, is a great way to build an online audience.

The simultaneous rollout of 10 sites around the world with mobile [delivery] is no small feat. We are modernizing the backend of all of Yahoo's sites around the world to create a more modular platform. We used to have about 180 different code bases, an incredible diaspora of sites and platforms, and we're harmonizing [that] so we can activate a site in Indonesia, India [or] the U.K., leverage the same content modules and then flip a switch. That is a major step forward for us.

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