According to sources, Yahoo will hold its annual sales meeting for its advertising employees in San Francisco this year in early March. Typically, the Silicon Valley Internet giant has done these massive offsites to charge up the troops responsible for bringing in most of the dough for its core business in farther-flung places from its Silicon Valley HQ.
Now, apparently, some of the staff can take Caltrain to it.
In a borrowing from Google, from whence he and Mayer came, De Castro shifted the sales organization to a “category” model in an effort to improve Yahoo’s ever-dying ad business. That category system had Yahoo sales reps sell across all of its ad products as well as its search offerings, and across channels in a vertical process organized around advertiser segments, such as automotive, entertainment and packaged goods.
It’s not clear what — if any — major shifts Mayer will announce this year, although she outlined several new ad products at CES and has been aiming harder at stream ads and has recently been intently focusing on boosting its search revenue over mobile and with contextual and native search ads.
There are many different ways to organize sales, but making any major change has potentially large ramifications on Yahoo’s financial performance, at least in the short term, since advertising makes up the bulk of its revenue.
Big players at the event will include various and sundry Yahoo sales leaders like Ned Brody, Mark Ellis and Peter Foster. But the focus will surely be on Mayer, who said on the last earnings call that she would be the point person for the sales effort.
This despite a vague disdain over her long career for ads and also very little experience in the arena. But Mayer’s a star CEO — there’s no doubt about that — and a very smart and savvy one too, so I suspect that besides trying to find the most technological way to solve the issue, she will use that charisma to pony up to advertisers well.
There is a lot riding on her shoulders, of course, to return the core Yahoo business to growth, which she hopes to do via product innovation and audience engagement that she has said will lead to increased revenue.
The hope is a little like my fave song lyrics from “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story”:
Could it be? Yes, it could
Something good, if I can wait
I don’t know what it is
But it is gonna be great
With a click, with a shock
Phone will jingle, door will knock
Open the latch
With a click, indeed. A lot of them from Yahoo users are needed.
But Mayer has a lot of time and space, still due to Yahoo’s long-ago investment in China’s Alibaba that has yielded billions of dollars in returns with billions more to come after its much-expected IPO later this year.
Yahoo is pretty much the only big seller in that transaction, having to hand over about half its 24 percent stake, per a previous agreement, for a massive payout.
For some reason, I am getting asked a lot lately about when time will be up for Mayer’s turnaround — which has to be getting tough on her, too.
She has plenty of time, is always my answer. Because of Alibaba, Yahoo is like a rich San Francisco trust-fund kid — this city is littered with them — who happens to have a manic but high-achieving tone right now. That’s laudable, but it matters not as the stock will be fine as long as Alibaba is. And, if Mayer can get Yahoo’s sales troops back to par with the thriving industry, so much the better.
Until then, let’s enjoy some Tony Bennett singing the classic song of the City by the Bay, with some inexplicable (it’s cold here!) but highly enjoyable hula going on too:
We reached out to Yahoo for comment, but there was none forthcoming.
(P.S. My office is in South Park, if any Yahoos want to stop by during the meeting for a little coconut water and kibitz!)