Yahoo to Spend 50% of Its Campaign Budget on Digital

Yahoo expects to spend about half of its budget, around $50 million, on digital marketing as part of its worldwide rebranding campaign, set to launch Monday. Though much of the effort will be aimed at consumers, the company hopes the campaign results in more money from advertisers. So, a B2B campaign is planned, too.

The “It’s Y!ou” campaign is not just hype and no substance, Yahoo execs stressed today. It will be backed with product upgrades including homepage customization, and improved e-mail and search experiences.

Yahoo hopes its marketing messages — intended to convince consumers that Yahoo is the place to find information that’s important to them personally as well as to the world — will translate into improved audience insights and relevance for advertisers. Still, it’s unclear exactly how the company intends to communicate that to advertisers and agencies.

The firm’s grand presence at New York’s annual Advertising Week event, including a much-touted press conference in the NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square this morning, is certainly part of Yahoo’s B2B strategy.

“We decided that [because of] Ad Week, we should just hurry up and get it done because it’s the place for us to really collaborate with advertisers to tell our story,” said Yahoo EVP and CMO Elisa Steele, who’s been with the company for six months.

As Yahoo continues to fight the notion that it competes directly with Google for ad dollars, the Sunnyvale, CA, firm is up against competition from others hoping to attract Ad Week attendees, namely AOL and Microsoft. All three are vying for attention from agency execs this week in New York. Meanwhile, Google’s presence at the week-long conference series seems small in comparison.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said the company’s closest competitor at the moment is AOL. Indeed, both firms are focused on scaling their display advertising businesses and both are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to regaining lost brand cachet among advertisers and consumers.

Although Bartz repels the notion that Yahoo should be compared to Google, it’s clear the firms could become more direct opponents in the display ad arena in the future. Google just officially launched its DoubleClick ad exchange, which is up against Yahoo’s older Right Media exchange. Yahoo EVP U.S. Hilary Schneider stressed Yahoo’s display ad prowess, noting that the company “pioneered” display advertising. Yet, she suggested the two exchanges could be linked.

“We welcome the idea of interconnecting exchanges,” said Schneider, who noted Google does not include inventory in Yahoo’s Right Media exchange. “The best for everybody associated with the ecosystem, for advertisers, for publishers, for ad networks, is really that open ability to connect, to be able to aggregate at scale the users that are most relevant to the marketer.”

In the past, Bartz has stressed that Yahoo is not a search company, and shouldn’t be compared with Google for that reason. A recent search ad deal with Microsoft — pending approval by the U.S. Department of Justice — seems to be in sync with that concept, since Yahoo will not invest in its own search ad platform as Microsoft’s takes over. However, Bartz today indicated Yahoo doesn’t want to neglect its search brand entirely. “It’s not Bing; it’s Yahoo Search,” she said.

The Yahoo campaign will run across the globe for the next 15 months in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, and Hong Kong. . In addition to digital elements including social media and viral marketing, Yahoo plans to run ads in broadcast media. The company has different goals for different markets, and as such will employ varying metrics. For instance, in the U.S., Yahoo will use page views to gauge “franchise protection.” According to Penny Baldwin, SVP, global integrated marketing and brand management, the firm will be more concerned with generating new unique users in emerging markets where there are “land grab” opportunities.

Along with Yahoo’s in-house marketing team, Landor & Associates handled brand strategy for the new campaign, while Ogilvy did creative.

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