Commentary

If Yahoo Fails Marketers Lose

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The industry faces a quandary. There's no doubt Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz remains in the hot seat as she attempts to turnaround a faltering company. In Wednesday's Search Marketing Daily column, I reported on events that took place during Laura Martin's presentation at the OMMA Publish Entertainment conference in Santa Monica, Calif.

The question-and-answer session following Martin's presentation turned toward a discussion on AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Bartz. When I wrote Bartz told Martin that as a CEO "you have to act like you have confidence in your decisions even when you don't," it turns out she had made the statement to a room full of people during a panel in Long Beach, Calif., at The Woman's Conference 2010 in response to a question about CEO leadership.

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Martin doesn't cover Yahoo's stock, though she did at one time. Needham & Co Analyst Mark May does, and he takes a whole other position on Bartz. In fact, he shared his position in a piece published by Paid Content on Sept. 22, where he basically states the goal of writing the article isn't to argue "Carol Bartz is the best CEO I've come across over my 11 years as an Internet analyst on Wall Street," but share his point of view on why folks should look "beneath the surface of management sound bites and financial results out of context."

May writes about the positive things that could be said if "drumming up drama was not your primary motivation-that is, here are reasons to be hopeful for Yahoo and its CEO's strategy." He states them in the Paid Content article. Without wanting to put more money in May's or Needham's pocket by advising on positive investments, my personal opinion sides on the hope he's correct because the world needs choice, more than Google and Microsoft Bing.

Portals like Yahoo will play a larger role for marketers in the future, even with the entrance of social networks like Facebook. And if Yahoo fails, marketers lose. Marketers should find clues in these findings from a HiveFire survey.

The ability to connect business professionals with timely and relevant content remains a marketer's biggest challenge, even across portals. HiveFire ran a content marketing survey this past summer. About 105 B2B marketers participated by answering 25 questions in the survey.

The study was designed to identify challenges facing today's B2B marketers and uncover the variety of methods marketers use to design, manage and measure social media based on thought leadership.

The most interesting finding from the survey point to strategic content that improves placement in search results. So, it's the perception that a solid content strategy can produce notable improvements in a company's placement in search results. (Think content placed by brands on Yahoo's network of portals.)

The lack of compelling content has a direct impact on market perception, as 36% of those without a blog say they are not viewed as thought leaders in their industry, according to study findings. And that's a simple blog post.

Meanwhile, 26% of B2B marketers cite delivering new content on a regular basis as their biggest challenge. Forty four percent do not have any corporate strategy, and of those who do, only 10% publish content daily.

About 75% of those who post content say they gain traffic from search engines to their Web site, the study suggests. No word on bounce rates though.

Still, knowing content drives B2B searchers to Web sites doesn't seem to motivate some marketers. Only 30% of B2B marketers publish new blog content less than once monthly. There's no clear owner of the process to contribute or coordinate content for blogs. About 33% rely on the vice president of marketing, 32% on an online marketing manager, and the remainder is split among the media relations staff of other internal resources.

Among companies with content that indexes "sometimes" or "rarely" in search results, nearly half, 44%, have a blog in place. And 70% of respondent have incorporated some kind of social media tools into their B2B marketing strategy. LinkedIn and Twitter are the most common, according to the study.

But portals like Yahoo and AOL will play more important roles in branding companies, not only to attract other business professionals, but consumers, too. What's your belief on Yahoo's future role, and how does your company view content?

1 comment about "If Yahoo Fails Marketers Lose".
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  1. David Kaplan from Kaplan Consulting, October 28, 2010 at 4:39 p.m.

    Hiring Ross Levinsohn was a great move. I picked up a bunch of their stock as soon as I heard about it.

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