Earlier this week Yahoo announced a major integration with ABC. The struggling internet portal finds its stock in the gutter, its internal management in shambles and bankers circling like vultures to break it into pieces they can sell off to the highest bidder. The one thing Yahoo still has in spades is a massive audience.
What’s really interesting, however, is that ABC is not just interested in connecting with the vast number of eyeballs Yahoo can send from its 25 million daily visitors. It’s also intrigued by the kind of social traffic that the big news networks are keen on tapping into. As The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal points out:
Here at the Washington Ideas Forum, the heads of ABC, NBC, and CBS took to the stage for a panel moderated by our James Fallows. Alongside the discussions of international reportage and the politicization of news, ABC president Ben Sherwood provided an interesting rationale for his outfits expanded partnership with Yahoo. Here’s the thing. As explained by Sherwood, the deal was not an effort to reach (large) Yahoo’s audience per se.
Yahoo, he said, was the largest provider of news items that were shared on Twitter and Facebook. Ergo, “If we are the primary news provider to Yahoo, we’ll be the primary news provider on Facebook and Twitter,” Sherwood said.
What Yahoo needs is a clear path forward. Embracing its role as portal and building out better tools and analytics for the news properties to which it drives so many visitors doesn’t sound like a bad plan. Better than trying, and failing repeatedly, to build its own brand of original content that connects with an audience advertisers will pay a premium for.
“If we ask somebody on the street, ‘What’s the top news brand?’ Would they say Yahoo news?” Mickie Rosen, the senior vice president who oversees Yahoo’s media properties, told the NY Times. “The honest answer is they probably wouldn’t.”