This week Yahoo, one of the oldest Internet brands, became part of the Verizon empire, one of the companies (along with HuffPost, AOL and TechCrunch) that live within the newly created Oath unit, which hopes to compete against Google and Facebook as a bulked-up alternative for online advertisers.
Good luck, Oath.
And let’s take a quick minute and look at the jewel of Oath, the beleaguered and ignored Yahoo.com. If any website sorely needed a fresh coat of paint and new outlook, it’s Yahoo.
Going to the Yahoo.com page is like going back in time to the days of MySpace and AOL, sites that were littered with gossip, celebrity news and really cheap ads for infomercial products. And what did we see on Yahoo’s front page this week? Trending stories about the late singer Whitney Houston, former pop queen Britney Spears and even country icon Dolly Parton; ads for cheap credit card and mortgage rates and cruise deals, along with articles about cute pets, Apple and Samsung smartphones and Donald Trump. (The handful of concessions to current times.)
“There’s just too much going on,” Samantha Stonich, a tourist from Florida visiting Manhattan Beach, Calif. told us this week. “I don’t use Yahoo at all. It’s outdated.” (Watch Stonich talking to us about Yahoo in this video here.)
Yahoo, which started in 1994 as a pre-Google search engine, and morphed into a “portal” for reading e-mail, keeping up on news, weather and sports, has also been the victim of some bad breaks. Beyond the corporate missteps that thwarted former CEO Marissa Mayer in her efforts to revitalize the brand, there were those two nasty e-mail breaches. Yahoo said that some 1.5 billion e-mail accounts were hacked in separate attacks in 2013 and 2014. There are more than one billion reasons to have stopped using Yahoo.
Yet Yahoo is still a top Internet destination-No. 3 in the United States, with 192 million visitors in April, according to comScore. Google is No. 1 with 241 million, and Facebook No. 2 with just over 200 million. Beyond the Yahoo front page, which is still used heavily for search, the company’s top portals include sites for e-mail (despite the breach), stocks and sports. “I love my fantasy football,” said Eric Feng, the founder of the new Unboxed.TV app, on our Thursday #TalkingTech Live episode on Facebook. “For several months a year, I’m at Yahoo all the time.”
Oath also owns AOL, which actually pre-dates Yahoo. Today’s AOL looks more modern, less cluttered and less littered with bottom of the barrel ads than Yahoo. But it’s a long ways from the intoxicating feel of the Facebook News Feed.
That basic Yahoo formula-news you cared about and tools to communicate with friends, got updated by Facebook, which turned it into a personalized social network that is now one of the most powerful Internet companies today, worth $434 billion according to…..Yahoo!
What would it take for #TalkingTech to return to Yahoo?
Throwing money at faded TV stars like Katie Couric didn’t do it. But as a news junkie, if I could get links to all the relevant content that interests me, with higher quality, personalized ads, there’s no reason I wouldn’t come back. You?