Pioneer social media and search site, Yahoo! has not received a very good press for some years. Facebook and Google are sexy and poor Yahoo! doesn’t seem fun any more. Changes in top management, and breakup of business partnerships, and Singapore legal battles have all contributed to a poor perception to many.

Yet it stubbornly remains a major player with a solid advertising income. In the Asia Pacific region, it is the No. 1 site in eight countries for News, it is the No. 1 site for Finance in six countries, it is the No. 1 Mail site in seven countries, and No. 1 in Entertainment in six countries and leads in several other categories in four or five countries.

Left to right: Matthew Drury, Head of Digital - MEC interaction Singapore; Rosalind Tan, VP, General Manager, Asia Pacific Region, Crisp Media; Vaasu Gavarasana, Head of Digital Marketing Solutions Group, Asia Pacific, Yahoo!; and Prajit Prakash, Ad Products Manager, Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

Vaasu S. Gavarasana, an ex-adman, now heads up Digital Marketing Solutions in the region. At a recent meeting with journalists in Singapore, he emphasied that Yahoo! was now more of a content company than a search engine. He was on a panel consisting of Prajit Prakash, Ad Products Manager, Yahoo! Asia Pacific, Matthew Drury, Head of Interaction at MEC Singapore and Rosalind Tan, VP, General Manager of Crisp Media APAC.

Gavarasana said that because Yahoo! was a pioneer, his company tended to be overlooked. On the subject of content, he identified the sites and partnerships around the region that provided content and which raised them to the number one sites. He said the issue today was content engagement and that content goes hand in hand with brand messages. Increasingly, Yahoo! could identify which content and which ads were relevant to the user, said Gavarasana.

Prajit Prakash introduced ad developments like Smart Ads which in certain categories was useful in expanding personalised messages without involving additional production costs. He also introduced developments in mobile and video ads like expanding ad frames and clickable video ads.

Tan spoke about the need for standardisation in mobile advertising while Drury said the digital industry needed to talk in terms of rating points so the big TV spenders understood more clearly the strength and value of digital media.

While Yahoo! retains the large audience and offers imaginative advertising solutions, this pioneer doesn’t have much to worry about in the immediate future. However, it really needs to clarify for what it stands as a brand. Management and staff must sail together on the same ship and be clear on the destination. A fresh strong identity is essential if Yahoo! is to survive long term.

Yahoo! roundtable in progress