This week we hear from President and GM of Consumer at Yahoo Joanna Lambert. She talks about the changes at Yahoo over the last few years and how Covid forced them to adapt, its 900 million users including a growing Gen Z audience, and Yahoo’s revenue strategies outside of advertising.

In the news roundup we discuss the FT launching its new bite-size app, YouTube’s plans for podcasting, and yet more bad behaviour from Facebook.

The full transcript will be live here shortly, but for now, here are some highlights:

Yahoo in 2022

The good news is there’s a lot about Yahoo that is the same. We still have that laser focus on customer service, and helping people with their day to day lives, helping people keep up with the news and things like that.

The thing that’s changed at the moment is obviously the media landscape. I’ve been here for four years, but I will say 2020 inspired so much change for our teams and for all media institutions around the globe. We walked into 2020 with, “Okay, here’s our roadmap for the year and what we’re going to do,” and it changed completely by March.

So I think one of the things that’s really interesting about the media landscape right now is just how quickly we’ve had to adapt to be able to serve our audiences. In 2020-2021 we had to talk a lot more about mental health, about how to get a vaccine, what’s happening in the world, and being a trusted source of information. And data became even more important.

Looking forward

What I really hope is that we take a lot of the learnings from what we’ve had over the last couple of years and use it and deploy it in the future. I’m in my first conference, like my first business trip in two years… I forgot how to pack. We had cocktails last night and I forgot how to interact with people in real life.

But what we learned in the last couple of years… I think that there’s a lot we learned about being agile, and also, again, being able to interact and motivate teams in different ways that doesn’t necessarily require in-person all the time.

Growing Gen Z audiences

The Gen Z audience is actually one of our biggest growth trajectories over the last couple of years. And it actually came through a strategy we deployed probably about two years ago, which was really to meet Gen Z where they are. We really opened up the Yahoo platform beyond our own web and desktop and mobile web experience and we actually started taking our Gen Z reporters and deploying them in different channels like TikTok and Twitter.

It was during the pandemic that we started, one of the reporters on the news team, who was on the older edge of Gen Z, actually went to one of our editors and said, ‘Look, I really think that this younger audience, we can serve them really well. They want to know what’s happening in the world, but they want to hear it from an authentic voice’.

We’ve now built an audience of about 2 million users on Yahoo News on TikTok. And we’ve since then deployed it against all the other categories like Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance.

On content aggregation

Yahoo is probably, well, is the largest aggregator of content globally. We have probably about 90% of our content is from premium publishers, third party content, great partners like USA Today, New York Times, Reuters, AP, all the way through to different publishers that can support all of the needs of every stock ticker in the world and everything else.

Then we have a modest, but a very, very impressive team of producers and editors and writers within each of the Yahoo verticals, that produce content, whether it’s for the retail investor, or sports enthusiasts, or day to day news readers through to people who are just using Yahoo to check the weather.

I think it’s a really lovely hybrid of third party and first party content that actually really distinguishes us. But again, underpinning all of it is around trusted content and making sure that even though we are that great hybrid of a technology company and a media company, we do have that trust factor, which is something that I think distinguishes us and will distinguish us as we go into the into the future as well.

Diversifying revenue

One of the strategies we deployed, probably about three years ago, was really diversifying beyond just ads into areas like subscriptions. So when I was with Yahoo Finance, we built Yahoo Finance Plus, which is a subscription product for the retail investor. We built a subscription product for TechCrunch enthusiasts, and we’ve since built Yahoo Fantasy Plus.

That subscription model, where we have these deep enthusiasts and are able to super serve them with subscription products, that’s been one of our diversification strategies around revenue.

The second part of our strategy around diversification has got to do with commerce, which is around content to commerce. We have a lot of people showing up every day looking for ideas, like what they want to buy, the best thing to do. How can we seamlessly show people how to, you’re reading about a mattress, buy the mattress, you’re looking at sunglasses, buy the sunglasses, and particularly in the email category, that’s been a huge growth trajectory for us.

Main story:

The Financial Times has launched FT Edit, a streamlined app it hopes will attract an audience beyond its traditional, professional readers.

  • The FT is opening its journalism to a wider audience with an introductory price of £0.99 per month.
  • FT Edit will offer a selection of engaging FT stories that give a deeper understanding of today’s world, including in-depth reads, reporting and analysis on world news, business, science, culture and more. For now, it’s only available on iOS.
  • The purpose of FT Edit is to provide an alternative to endless scrolling, allowing readers time to digest eight important stories selected for them each day. It will launch with the strapline: time well read.
  • FT editor, Roula Khalaf, said: “The FT Edit showcases the breadth of our journalism in a very digestible and accessible way. I’m delighted that we can bring the FT to new readers.”
  • It’s similar to what The Information did with Ticker, and also The Economist’s Espresso app: “a rich, full-flavoured shot of daily global analysis from the editors of The Economist to get you up to speed, fast” which is a £7.99/month subscription.

News in brief:

 

  • YouTube’s plans for podcasting are interesting but less than fully formed… that cute little monkey 404 is still there. Podnews was reporting last week that they had seen a slide deck that said YouTube is planning ‘tighter integration, monetisation and analytics for podcasts’ Basically YouTube will pull RSS feeds straight in, support and sell audio ads (with a revenue share) and develop podcast analytics. 
  • It emerged this week that Facebook paid a Republican strategy firm to make up stories about TikTok. Think-tank Targeted Victory looked to get stories about harmful video challenges which would cause parents to panic about the app’s influence. The most interesting thing about this is that local newspapers found themselves complicit – part of the strategy was to get local media outlets to cover TikTok trends that could be dangerous or harmful to young people. “While Meta is the current punching bag, TikTok is the real threat especially as a foreign owned app that is #1 in sharing data that young teens are using,” a director at Targeted Victory wrote in an email about the campaign’s messaging. 
  • In ‘this is the one thing we didn’t want to happen’ news – Facebook was accidentally elevating harmful content for around six months. Instead of suppressing posts from repeat misinformation offenders that were reviewed by the company’s network of outside fact-checkers, the News Feed was instead giving the posts distribution, spiking views by as much as 30 percent globally.

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