The Opportunities Ahead For New Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson - Industry Reaction

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Yahoo! CEO Scott ThompsonAt long last, Yahoo! has hired a new chief executive.

After letting go of its previous CEO, Carol Bartz, four months ago, the company has hired eBay/PayPal exec Scott Thompson.  Read the Yahoo! press release.

AdExchanger.com reached out to a selection of industry execs - including former Yahoo!s - and asked the following question:

"What's your take on the opportunities ahead for new Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson?"

Click below or scroll down for more:

Ramsey McGrory, CEO, Clearspring (former Yahoo!)

The opportunities remain huge for Yahoo.  With a trusted worldwide brand and over 700mm active consumers, the primary focus must be retaining, extending and expanding how consumers use Yahoo everyday.  That's the core advantage that creates every other opportunity for Yahoo (and has allowed for missteps and retrenchments)    Very few premium publishers can invest in premium content development AND then consumer opportunities like mobile, social, local, e-commerce, but even Yahoo has to limit its scope significantly.

Yahoo can continue to be both a leading premium publisher and a partner to other premium publishers for content distribution, communications and monetization.  Yahoo wins playing to its combined strength in content, media, data and platforms, rather than attacking one area solely.  Tactically and now from the cheap seats since I left in Q3, I would:

  • Significantly divest of Alibaba, take the proceeds and invest regionally through acquisition in premium content (sites like Makoob or technology like IntoNow that enables growth regionally (more uniques internationally and more engagement domestically where there's saturation)
  • Greater investment in original programming (acquire or build)
  • Reduce the scope of ad serving vision to powering Yahoo and only very key partners
  • Fully integrate Right Media and Appnexus to facilitate a massive and premium publisher marketplace.  Be an anchor of the marketplace rather than trying to own the marketplace
  • Sell Yahoo Web Analytics to Adobe or IBM in exchange for massive integration of their client bases into Yahoo! for frictionless and data driven media buying.
  • Transition the remaining search business and people to MSFT, but retain and leverage all data from search.
  • Scott's already stated data is the key and continued focus on activating data across advertising and content management is key to driving yield.
  • Expand efforts to be the authentication engine for other publishers..long term important for mobile, personalization, and staying ahead of likely regulation.  Also feeds the data engine.
  • Each of these things have headcount implications, but based on revenue expectations, headcount should come down at least 20%.  Gotta wonder whether it makes sense to run three separate business regions.  For any benefit derived, it created a lot of material issues.

Net net…either increasing or reducing the focus or scope on content, media, data and platforms.  Attack!

Greg Coleman, President, Criteo (former Yahoo!)

Scott Thompson is joining a great brand that still has a very big heartbeat. The lowest hanging fruit that he can take care of is to invest in the sales channel. He has a good top leadership in place but they have lost a lot of critical mid- level sales/marketing people and management and they need to be replaced FAST. He should embrace Ross Levinson as he is one of the best in the business and let Ross "do his thing".

Scott should take a good look at all of the businesses that Yahoo is in and make some hard calls in his first 30 days. The ability to stop doing things has always been a problem for Yahoo! There is still a hangover from the Carol Bartz days and he will need to address the advertising community asap and let them know of his plans as soon as his strategy is set and he should also to a sales/marketing listening tour.

Yahoo still has some legs and with the right plan and management team, he can get this brand back on track but it will take at least 2 years. He also should act like he is running a private company and only do the right things for the brand and not for the street.

Amanda Richman, President, Digital, MediaVest (Publicis)

Scott's sending the right signals. Yahoo's audience data, content and focus on consumer experiences are core assets that are underleveraged, and he's acknowledged that. With the right strategy, his experience at eBay/PayPal could reignite the brand in the media marketplace, and open doors to new ways of partnering.

Tim Cadogan, CEO, OpenX (former Yahoo!)

First off, taking on the task of rejuvenating Yahoo is one of the toughest jobs out there and deserves respect and some patience. I suspect finding a path for Yahoo requires deciding what its target audience truly is and gunning hard after those people to help shape and enrich their digital experience with Yahoo services they use extensively. That includes deciding who it's *not* going after. Yahoo doesn't have to woo the digerati to be a huge and successful company - second acts of coolness are almost impossible. Nailing the needs of the mass market may work better - and fulfill its scale requirements. Once the audience focus is there, revitalizing and reenergizing what is still probably the best display sales machine in the world is essential. That includes truly utilizing all its rich user data (in a user-respectful way) to generate outstanding ad experiences for users and advertisers. Lastly, whatever else Yahoo's new CEO does, please redo the Mail experience!

Sean Corcoran, SVP, Director of Digital Media and Social Influence, Mullen

Despite their fall from grace as a digital leader, Yahoo! still has a lot to offer to both consumers and marketers. Advertising is far from dead, and Yahoo has a lot of great content and effective tools for advertising. But they need to stop worrying about the likes of Facebook and Google and focus on what they do best – providing quality content to a lot of people. So Scott Thompson’s opportunity is to find the best way to create, aggregate, and distribute great content across all types of devices and then give marketers the tools to leverage it – from creative ad options on premium inventory to low cost inventory on their exchange to the data that enables the most effective ad buys.

By John Ebbert

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