Yahoo! Moving Beyond Ad Sales

Internet portal Yahoo is moving aggressively to overcome relatively flat ad sales, and is making one move after another to broaden its revenue base, even offering premium real-time services in its financial area such as the recently launched MarketTracker.

And clearly the moves are needed in light of the slowdown in Internet ad spending. In fact, earlier this week Goldman Sachs told clients that Yahoo displayed “relatively flat growth” in traditional advertiser activity for the month of May.

In April Yahoo launched a fee-based package for investors featuring real-time market information streamed live to their desktops with the new Yahoo Finance MarketTracker. The real-time information will also be available to subscribers throughout the Yahoo network.

The offer includes a combination of unlimited real-time quotes from the New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges, breaking news from leading editorial companies and market analysis including live stock upgrades and downgrades, and is available for $9.95 a month.

Then there was the recent deal for premium content with Consumer Reports and before that was the launch of an enhanced version of the Yahoo Messenger service that allows users to make reduced-rate international telephone calls from their PCs.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo, has been forced to diversify its income after issuing financial guidance that warns about a slowdown in spending on ad sales.

Meanwhile, the Goldman Sachs Online Media Barometer (OMB), a consolidated metric of the level of online media activity of traditional advertisers on portals, marked its first decline in four months.

For Yahoo, the moves to expand revenue options would seem be mandatory, especially in an ad environment about which GS had this to say: “We do not expect significant growth in the OMB index over the coming months, due to both sluggish online usage during the summer months and the many secular and economic impediments to the full-blown adoption of the online medium by mainstream advertisers.

Still, Yahoo is making progress. CBS MarketWatch reported today that the leading Yahoo analyst at SG Cowen said his “contacts” are indicating that the company now “gets it” and appears more willing to work with advertisers.

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