By: Daniel Christopher Jones
With Google's savage and relentless domination of the internet search market continuing at a frightening pace, Yahoo had to do something. First, they joined with Microsoft in a 10 year partnership deal combining technologies, revenue sharing and ad search sales staff between the two tech and ad giants. Now, Yahoo has sought to relaunch itself with a $100 million global marketing campaign, designed to compete with Google even more aggressively, and place themselves at the centre of consumer's online lives.
The company are hoping the same symbols that helped it build an endearing brand around giant exclamation marks and yodeling in the early days, can help propel the company into relevance among today's internet users. Beginning on September 28, Yahoo will run ads on TV, radio, billboards, and the Web in the installment of a new global marketing campaign running through 2010. As the company looks to sell off non-core businesses, Yahoo will launch a global brand campaign over 15 months under the grammatically horrific slogan "It's Y!ou", featuring the familiar Yahoo exclamation mark. Other slogans in the new campaign include "The Internet is under new management: Yours" and "The Internet has a new personality: Yours".
CEO Carol Bartz hopes, despite company streamlining, the campaign's size and scale will impress advertisers. "We're really revisiting everything. Where it makes sense, we will sell, and where it makes sense, we will shut down. The focus of the company is really to engage and personalise Yahoo! for the users and to do that we need to be ready to put our signature on the bottom of every page on the internet that has Yahoo! on it," said Bartz.
In a effort to diversify, Yahoo's new campaign will focus on creating an image of the company as a central online destination for users who want to balance news and information with their social networks, rather than simply a search engine.
Yahoo has also rolled out changes to its high-traffic home page as well as its email and instant messaging services.
The problem is Yahoo are trying to present a "new" ideal, that isn't new at all. The core idea behind the campaign - that the internet is now a place more controlled by each user's tastes and interests than by any media or technology company - is just not original. There is a danger web users could have their intelligence insulted by Yahoo parading this well established idea as a new creation, and Yahoo's creation at that. What's more, surely promoting the web as something of wondrous and limitless choice, and then telling consumers to choose Yahoo, is somewhat hypocritical. Mixed messages do not make for good ad campaigns.
Andy Beal, editor of the website Marketing Pilgrim, compounds Yahoo's campaign problems by saying, "I would argue that consumers have already made a decision: They are aware of what Yahoo has to offer, and they've decided there are better alternatives for their time."
They could, and should, have sought inspiration from their now close ally - Microsoft. Before launching its own multi-million-dollar ad campaign for new search facility Bing, Microsoft invested heavily into developing the search engine to begin with. With this campaign, Yahoo are simply spending $100 million to "jog somebody's memory trying to package up what's already there," as Beal put it in an interview with BusinessWeek.
Yahoo are not offering a new product in any way, shape or form. Tweaks to their search pages are far from substantial and pale in significance to any innovations at Google, in terms of audience attention. Everybody is aware that Yahoo exists, that isn't the problem. The problem is that they do not present a better alternative to Google, and I fail to see the sense in spending $100 million on reminding people of that fact.
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