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Yahoo unveils $100m ad campaign

Web company wants to raise profile of its brand and products

Yahoo plans to spend more than $10m over the next 15 years in a bid to raise the profile of its brand and products.

CEO, Carol Bartz said the goal of its ad campaign is to drive home the message that Yahoo wants to be the center of people's lives online. The marketing message centers around the word 'you', making a play on Yahoo's iconic 'Y' in phrases like 'It starts with You' and 'It's You'.

Although Yahoo websites and online services already attract massive amounts of visitors, this campaign is necessary to make sure people are aware of recent enhancements to key products, like its home page, search engine and webmail service.

Specifically, Yahoo wants to promote new social-networking, personalisation and third-party integration features across several of its core services, which company executives feel make Yahoo an ideal central hub for people to manage their online experience.

In concept, this isn't too far removed from Yahoo's original mission when it was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo in the mid-1990s as a website directory, Bartz said.

"This is a highly evolved [version of] the same concept. Now the internet is even bigger and more scrambled eggs, and how can you organise your life and have it your way?" she said.

"We're just taking it farther than it's been by having it really feel coordinated the way you want it ... so that it feels like an integrated experience for you," she added.

The campaign, which will be rolled-out worldwide on October 5, will stress what Yahoo considers its competitive strength: offering services to manage personal matters, like sharing photos and exchanging emails, as well as to stay informed and engaged when big news happens.

"It's the combination of my world and the world that we look at as the intersection of Yahoo's corporate position. It's where we believe we can own and deliver a unique and differentiated experience in a way no one else can," said Elisa Steele, Yahoo's chief marketing officer.

Gartner analyst Andrew Young expressed the concern that Yahoo may not have enough oomph in its roster of services to back up the interest the campaign generates.

"A campaign of this size will put enormous pressure on the company to fulfill and exceed people's expectations for how these services will change their experience, opinions and relationships with Yahoo," Young said.

"I don't know if Yahoo has the goods. Yahoo has to go beyond where it is today to fulfill the campaign's promise," he added.

For example, to truly be the central place from where people manage their lives online, Yahoo needs to let people manage all their online identities and social networking interactions on and off Yahoo.

Bartz declined to comment about recent reports that Yahoo is looking to sell its Zimbra communication and collaboration suite for businesses, whose technology has been used to enhance Yahoo Mail.

In general, she said Yahoo will either sell or shut down any of its products or units that aren't aligned with the company's strategy of being the center of people's we experience.

Yahoo recently struck a search advertising deal with Microsoft.

That deal, which is awaiting regulatory approval, calls for Microsoft's Bing search engine to be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo sites, and for Yahoo to sell premium search-advertising services for both companies.

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See also: Google plans to rival Yahoo in display advertising


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