Another day, another rumor about the fate of one of the oldest Internet companies in the world. This time the buzz has Yahoo holding a traditional auction for the sale of its search business through formal bids. Buyers began receiving nondisclosure agreements last week, reports CTFN, citing two sector bankers.
The report suggests that private-equity firms are expected to join the auction, but some companies like AT&T won't likely show a strong interest. The report also mentions that Activist Starboard Value is reportedly close to finding a seat on the board.
The news strikes a chord after last week's news that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was shopping around the business to private equity investors. One major challenge remains with proving Yahoo's worth. Revenue from its search business fell 7% in the fourth quarter compared with the prior year, with a 10% drop in paid clicks more than offsetting a 3% increase in price per click (PPC).
Agency executives differ in their opinion of Yahoo's brand equity. Rob Griffin, chief innovation officer at Almighty, believes Yahoo has "None. Zero. Zip." brand equity in its search business, whereas Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, said "Yahoo as a brand holds significant intangible value."
Natarelli said search data is valuable to companies beyond advertising revenue when it comes to predicting sentiment and future behaviors and outcomes.
"I'm not sure there's a whole lot of value to much of what Yahoo has to offer," said Rober Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys. "Marisa Mayer has mishandled the brand, the offerings, and the brand's shrinking consumer base every step of the way."
Passikoff said Yahoo has been in a "death-spiral for years and now they're selling the brand off for "parts."
Anther challenge is presented by Yahoo's dependence on Google for paid-search advertising on desktop and mobile devices, after severing ties with Microsoft Bing. Even before that it shuttered the technology to serve its own search ads.
Google now provides Yahoo with Web search services as well as ads through AdSense for Search on publisher sites. The deal supports Yahoo proprieties and affiliate sites in the U.S., Canada, and some Asian, African, and Latin American markets, but not Europe.
For the past year the company has been focusing on its native business, with both search and display advertising. In February the company released data on its progress.
In Q4 2015, Yahoo saw 350 billion native ad requests for third-party mobile app inventory on Yahoo Gemini, accounting for more than 50% of Yahoo Gemini impressions.
Yahoo’s data reveals eCPMs for third-party native apps were between $3.50 and $4 in the U.S. and more than $2 across the rest of the world.