If an Editor & Publisher “Special Report” on Yahoo’s newspaper consortium project is any indication, everything’s going swimmingly with the project, despite worries of how an impending Microsoft takeover could affect the situation. Consortium CEOs got together at a two-day meeting at Yahoo HQ in Sunnyvale in which Yahoo EVP Hilary Schneider and President Sue Decker were in attendance. Apparently the leaders of this motley media crew were throwing around terms like “blown away” and “psyched” afterwards.
Does Yahoo have a rollercoaster in their office courtyard we haven’t heard about?
Anyway, though the story acts as a re-cap and somewhat of a cheer-fest for the Yahoo project, there are some tidbits of interest. For one, MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton told E&P Yahoo has 572 staffers working on paper consortium efforts, and he’s been told that will increase to 700 in the coming months. I’ve seen Yahoo job ads for HotJobs sales gigs, so don’t doubt they’re hiring, but these numbers do seem really high.
The story notes, “In the next few months, newspapers will begin beta testing of a platform that moves beyond the troubled recruitment advertising arena — and from traditional mass aggregation of eyeballs into targeting by demographics, geography, and consumer behavior. None of the CEOs will describe in any detail what Yahoo has cooking, but they are uniformly impressed.”
This testing is already happening. ClickZ reported this about a month ago, noting Yahoo has already begun testing behavioral and geo-targeting across the growing network of newspaper sites. At the time, Lem Lloyd, VP of Yahoo’s Newspaper Consortium told me about 20 paper sites were testing sales of Yahoo inventory to their local advertisers, while Yahoo was testing sales of those paper sites to national advertisers. That test group was expected to expand to 50 in a month’s time.
More recently, McClatchy’s Chris Hendricks told me McClatchy has had two sites live in the Yahoo pilot test for display advertising for about three months.
E&P also made note of quadrantOne, the new newspaper network led by Gannett, Hearst, Tribune, and The New York Times Company. QuadOne recently added new sites from publishers already partnering with Yahoo, raising questions about the paper companies’ attitude towards the Yahoo deal. The story notes, “QuadrantOne has a dedicated sales staff armed with committed inventory from each paper, though Williams could not say how many salespeople will be involved.”
For the record, ClickZ reported when the network launched in mid-February that, 17 people are on board to sell CPM-based standard and rich media ads to national advertisers. Some handling ad sales out of New York, LA and Chicago are on the national sales teams at owner firms, including quadOne Interim CEO Dana Hayes and SVP Sales Donna Stokley, both top Tribune Interactive sales execs. They also planned to hire additional sales staff at the time.