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In less than two years it went from being a hobby of two graduate students at Stanford University to a multimillion-dollar international company.

Yahoo! Corp., an Internet guide and search engine, has become one of the hottest brand names in new media. Alliances with content providers like Reuters New Media and Softbank's Ziff-Davis Publishing have produced such brand extensions as Yahoo! Japan, Yahoo! Europe, Yahoo! Internet Life, Yahoo! Computing and an online kids guide called Yahooligans!

"It's my job to keep the Yahoo! name alive and fun," says Karen Edwards, director of brand management.

Yahoo! in March named Black Rocket, San Francisco, for its estimated $10 million ad account, which involves print and TV work.

Ms. Edwards tries to keep the branding efforts focused on three groups: near-surfers, current surfers and the mass market.

"People just getting ready to start surfing the Web have heard of Yahoo! but don't know all the specifics of our offering," Ms. Edwards says. "Our branded messages focus on the Yahoo! name, but target audiences according to their awareness levels."

Originally a commercial free Internet guide, Yahoo! now generates millions of dollars selling ad opportunities on its sites in the form of banners and keywords. The Yahoo! main site hosts more than 80 advertisers, including American Express, Apple Computer and AT&T Corp.

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