I’ve got a soft spot for Yahoo. Seeing their billboard on Elizabeth and Houston St.’s in 2000 felt like a big moment. Since then, of course, Yahoo’s lost half of its value. They went from the undisputed leader in search engine marketing, to co-running bing’s search engine. From the place to find anything, to… a place to check email. So here Yahoo is announcing Gemini – “the first unified marketplace for mobile search and native advertising.” – and I have high hopes.
It’s good for our clients to have more choices, and I have personal nostalgia for the company. To my (early) understanding, Gemini is a way, in the same interface we currently buy clients’ ads in, to create sponsored stories – advertorials – across the Yahoo advertising network. One, it attaches an ROI to Yahoo’s decision to spend big on content – Yahoo writes an article about beer? Our friends at Draft Magazine want to be there. Matt Bai writes an article about the Tea party? Our client 1776 coalition should be all over that. There’s a piece on tax strategies? Good Accountants (another client) can be there. Two, Google doesn’t have it. Three, it’s trustworthy – ads will clearly be marked as ads. But as much as I want it to work, I’m just not sure it will. Will they open this up to the vast pool of mid-sized advertisers, our keep it exclusive to the big boys? We work with lots of schools. Not all schools have Devry’s budget.
Yahoo has traditionally tried to differentiate itself from Google by going after bigger clients (or at least, people who are willing to spend more.) So yes, I get that they want to create new ways for ITT Tech to spend more. But for every ITT who spends $400,000 monthly, there are 4,000 schools – psychology schools, law schools, pre-schools, etc… who spend > $1,000 monthly. That latter group is bigger, and if they don’t open this up to them, it won’t fly. Nobody knows if they are Yahoo clients, so they won’t know how to sign up. I kid you not – it used to be that advertisers had either Yahoo or MSN accounts. They merged – forming “Search Partners” – according to some arcane logic, and if it was decided (passive voice intentional) to make advertisers either Yahoo or MSN advertisers – even though everyone logs into the same place and pays the same bill. To this point, none of our Yahoo reps have contacted us about this. If they don’t actively push it out to agencies, it won’t fly. If Yahoo doesn’t do a better job rolling this out to the $50,000 per month advertisers – the advertisers who power Google’s stock price – and make it easy for agencies and clients to get onboard, it won’t grow the way I hope it does.