While we don't know how many pennies Yahoo will be showering on
Ms. Couric, ad buyers consulted by Ad Age believe her presence on
Yahoo's home page will boost pricing, adding millions to Yahoo's
top line over the course of a year for the home page and Yahoo News
Ms. Couric will only produce one interview a month at the
outset, according to a person familiar with the matter. That means
selling them as rare events and showing them to a vast portion of
Yahoo's audience: 43 million unique visitors a month in the U.S.,
according to ComScore.
If she secures a high-value, in the news personality, on par
with her interviews with Sarah Palin during the 2008 election
cycle, they will drive advertiser interest in owning that content
and its environment, meaning more robust upfront pricing.
"If she's able to secure a personality or politician that is a
tough-to-get interview, then I do think there is going to be some
scarcity value there [for advertisers]," said Susan Schiekofer,
president-digital at MEC, a unit of ad giant WPP.
A Yahoo home-page takeover can run advertisers anywhere from
$450,000 to $700,000 a day if it involves rich media elements like
video or an exclusive event. A banner atop Yahoo News could add
another $120,000 to the bill.
But adding Ms. Couric to the mix could send home-page pricing
higher, perhaps as high as its Cyber Monday rates when it has
charged more than $1 million for the days Ms. Couric's interviews
air, at least for the first one. Yahoo could further juice that
rate if previously untapped TV budgets were made available -- which
they may be.
"[Ms. Couric's interviews] could attract some more conservative
advertisers that have not wanted to get into that space [but will
now] because she's a proven entity," Ms. Schiekofer said. Those
advertisers "tend to be much heavier television advertisers. They
are advertising digitally but in a careful way and this could help
extend them more fully into the digital news category."
If that happens once a month, Yahoo adds $3.6 million to $6.6
million in incremental revenue over the coming year. It's not TV
money, but Yahoo will take it.
And there could be upside to that depending on whom Ms. Couric
can land, and if the interviews are spread out over several days.
Ms. Couric's Sarah Palin interviews were cut into several
segments and aired over time. Ms. Couric could also increase her
frequency, particularly if "Katie" isn't renewed by ABC.
To be clear, it's not yet known how Yahoo plans to package these
deals. However, they will likely be fixed-rate sponsorships that
include pre-roll video ads and some supplementary display
advertising -- like how TV networks typically sell their YouTube
inventory. Yahoo declined to comment on the terms of Ms. Couric's
deal or their plans to package her content for advertisers.
Assuming Ms. Couric is able to consistently draw an audience to
justify that hypothetical seven-figure price tag, she could be
worth a giant stack of pennies to Yahoo, and while certainly not
worth what she's been paid on TV, enough to get by.
"With cord-cutting on the rise, people want to get their content
from other places. Yahoo wants to fill that role. If Marissa pulls
that off and pulls TV dollars with it, that will be a victory,"
said Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst and director of
research at BGC Financial.