Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Is Yahoo Destined To Be The Next LookSmart?

"We do not see Google and MSN as our competition," Tom Hochstatter said today, "we look at offline media as our competitors."

All aboard the Titanic. This senior staffer at Yahoo's Strategic Programming (their ROI, Tracking and Bid Management/Web Analytics department)spoke with me about the changes being made to their API.

Right now no new SEM/Analytics companies are being allowed in, or the "not no, not now" response. Though he did not confirm it, more pointedly he did not deny that the existing SEM/Analytics/Tracking partners would soon be pushed out as well. "I won't say if existing agreements will continue."

I hope Kevin over at Did-It, the guys at Atlas and KeywordMax et al are ready for this.

True they are going to maintain the individual access to the AWS. And he sang the praises of the Yahoo tools, and the company's desire to develop "bilateral relationships' while suggesting a new product will be roilling out before the end of the year. Taking the Yahoo products to a "higher level or more involved" in the space.

"We have a strategic position for the web going forward", he said.

So did LookSmart and when MSN left that engine it rapidly feel to the side. I hope the Yahoo stock does not fall as heavily as that of LookSmart come announcement day.

What it seems to me is that Yahoo does not really care about the granular analytics. They want to move back a step and attract the agencies - the offline media at the moment who really have not embraced the web in a great way.

Ad agencies look more at the bigger picture, at branding and demographics as opposed to specifics. If Yahoo tries to become the portal that gets the agencies and drops the importance of search - they are hoping for a major shift in web behavior. At a time when MSN is changing their method of PPC - it seems Overture (the company that started it all as we are always told by their reps). may be taking over that method.

Yahoo has made a few wrong calls lately in my opinion.

Tom thought the print world etc. was where Yahoo should be getting new traffic and advertisers and had no comment about Yahoo losing their contract with AOL in Europe.
The recent increase in traffic and bids for PPC in Europe has been huge and will only get bigger.

Keep a keen eye on the horizon Yahoo - if you see LookSmart's CEO sitting on an iceberg out there try and avoid it.