Not Being a Yahoo Anymore

Yahoo believes original news content and programming can rescue it from obscurity and purchasers.Even as financial vultures circle overhead, Yahoo is trying to capitalize on its dominant online position. Its strategy involves producing more original news and entertainment that give Yahoo a distinct voice, potentially opening new doors for marketers.

According to comScore calculations for August, Yahoo attracted 81.2 million unique visitors to its site featuring largely aggregated content from a mix of media sources. That was more than the 75.3 million who clicked on CNN, which most casual observers would declare as the online news leader.

That audience hasn't automatically translated into revenue, Yahoo officials concede. Their answer is to make Yahoo a more indispensable online hangout through original content.

The New York Times reported Yahoo has signed deals with Walt Disney to showcase articles and videos produced by ABC News and create a co-branded website for "Good Morning America." Yahoo also is hiring reporters and editors to break news online.

It is personalizing online content and adopting social media concepts, such as allowing users to share articles with friends, a la Twitter and Facebook. Yahoo also will create exclusive online events, such as a video stream of a charity concert featuring Lady Gaga, Usher and Bono.

Yahoo Sports is the model. It recently broke the story about widespread NCAA rule violations by the University of Miami football team, fetching 38 times more page views than normal sports stories. One of its other popular offerings is Fantasy Football Live.

Company officials say they aren't starting from ground zero. Some 26 million people viewed its original programming in August, topping viewership on Hulu. Yahoo executives say professionally produced video content, for news or entertainment, will be of more interest than the often offbeat offerings of YouTube or other user-centered sites.

Despite its strategy, Yahoo remains on slippery ground because it has taken a long time to decide whether it's in the news business or a technology company. It also has plodded in getting promising new products to market, such as an iPad app to harvest articles and convert them to a smartly designed digital e-zine. The indecision and delay has allowed competitors to jump into the empty space, making Yahoo's growth even harder.

For marketers, however, this new energy from Yahoo may create fresh opportunities to pitch stories or find a partner for a major campaign. If the top media hands Yahoo has recruited are successful in finding its unique voice, the online giant could become attractive, as both an advertising medium and a news outlet.

Make plans to add Yahoo's phone number to your Rolodex.