Forbes asked Ad Execs to give Yahoo's Marissa Mayer advice.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer needs to up her game on Madison Avenue—bolstering the portal’s reputation among advertisers.
In emailed responses, here is their advice to Mayer.
Johnny Vulkan, founding partner, Anomaly
She focused on the right things for the first 18 months of her tenure—improving the products, services and platforms for Yahoo’s sizable audience. It would have been pointless to sell hard earlier against what were aging and fragmented platforms. There is still a ways to go but there is enough evidence to go to market. 2014 will see all the digital media platforms benefit as marketing dollars continue to shift. While this year may not see huge gains in share for Yahoo, I’d expect them to hold their own and start to build from there—let’s see if Wall Street can be patient in the process.
Doug Ray, global president, Carat
The advice I would give to Marisa is this: Leverage the asset that helps differentiate Yahoo from other large digital suppliers – its content. Shift the focus from the past advertising model to one which is centered on native advertising or content marketing. In an environment of continued fragmentation and niche interests, Yahoo could stand to gain the attention of marketers and agencies alike by helping them create content to fuel always-on, dynamic brand stories that address the needs of their consumers.
Robert Harwood-Matthews, president, TBWAChiatDay New York
Some of their issues are pretty clear; the brand is stigmatized, it’s not clear really truly what it stands for. There’s a proliferation of okay products, but nothing truly stands out in their portfolio, and I’m unsure of what’s coming next or what is cutting edge. I can’t remember the last time I wholeheartedly recommended them to a client. Listening to Mayer’s speech about their vision at CES of ‘inspiring and entertaining’ I can begin to see something interesting. How about they bring their tech people closer to my creatives? We could marry in the process, co-create together. What if Yahoo were seen as great collaborators, gave up access and invited our creatives to play, mash stuff together with our brands to tell stories and let us try to disrupt their products and technologies together? Then I’d get excited and that’s something I couldn’t imagine their competitors truly ceding.
If I were putting together a playbook for Marissa, I would:
- Bring in someone from Madison Avenue that has a good reputation among agencies to oversee agency relationships.
- Get more personally involved with agency relationships (let’s face it, she’s a celebrity).
- Partner with agencies to bring new marketing and advertising ideas to clients that help make the agency look good.
- Use Yahoo’s significant production and original programming to offer product placement and features on behalf of agency clients.
- Share Yahoo data and research with agencies to help them better craft client messaging and target audiences.
- Form a panel of agencies to advise Yahoo on new ideas to use the platform for marketing and advertising.
- Refrain from trying to go around agencies and direct to clients to sell advertising and offer production services (agencies see this as a threat).
- Seek input from agencies and clients on improving Yahoo’s search capabilities to better compete with Google.
- Spread their own marketing spend more evenly across agency holding companies.
Many of these ideas are things that Google and Facebook have already implemented. Yahoo has started many of these initiatives in the past, but due to management turnover, there has been little consistency and continuity.
Karen Kaplan, CEO, Hill Holliday
I’d suggest that she focus on the creative side of the business just as much as the media side. Think of Yahoo as a platform, and creatives as potential developers for the platform. If creatives are concepting with Yahoo’s assets in mind, those ideas will translate into media buys. Over the past few years the gulf between what’s become possible in the media world and the ability for creative people to keep up with and take advantage of those possibilities has widened. Yahoo has a heritage as an environment for great creative, which has only been enhanced with the Tumblr acquisition, and so they have a lot of credibility to become the platform for modern, data-driven creativity.
Andrew Essex, co-founder and vice chairman, Droga5
I think everything hinges on a building a premium product, from the edit content to the apps to the ad units. If she can make Yahoo indispensable and add a sense of purpose and dynamism to that indisputable scale, that will be a home run.