Yahoo CEO Calls AOL A "Mini Yahoo," Defines Patchwork Strategy For Success

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz continued to talk about Yahoo’s regrouping strategy at an advertising industry conference earlier this week.

She touched on the topics we covered in our post last week, The Steady, Efficient Decline Of Yahoo. Specifically, she’s counting on an improvement in the economy to drive Yahoo growth, and she claims to have made significant advances in display advertising tools, targeting and analytics. “People still have to display their brand in a more descriptive way than just keywords,” she told Advertising Age.

When asked if Yahoo was any different from AOL, she responded “Generally it’s not different, we’re just a lot bigger. The fact of the matter is, what they’re trying to do at AOL — and I shouldn’t speak for AOL, they’re very capable of speaking for themselves — but I think it’s like a mini Yahoo.”

AOL draws 110 million monthly unique U.S. visitors, says Comscore, compared to 164 million for Yahoo (January 2010).

Bartz also says Yahoo will be making acquisitions to drive content. “This year it’s about what technologies: Do we need to fill in the blanks, what analytics, what tools?” she said.

She added “Well just imagine whether it’s acquiring an audience — a group of female bloggers, or whether it’s acquiring some better analytics tools that help us guide campaigns with our partners, or whether it’s technology.”

And “social” says Bartz, doesn’t begin and end with Facebook: “You know, social is a word that has almost become too narrow. And I think with Facebook’s immense success, all of the sudden that’s the only definition of social. But if you think back to the finance chat rooms, [those] were the beginning of social and people could actually interact. … As we look at social we want people to be on the Yahoo site and have tweets come in and have their Facebook postings come in, so that it’s a very personal place to be that helps them understand what’s going on in their social world.”

In Bartz’s social world, it seems, people are reading Twitter and Facebook messages on Yahoo. But this patchwork strategy of taking a little of this, a little of that isn’t going to excite users and encourage them to spend much time on Yahoo. Despite their massive reach, time on site isn’t going anywhere.

But at least we know where Yahoo stands on things. Little or no product innovation, little or no risk taking. And like I said before, a long, slow, steady decline. And despite Bartz’s last words in the interview, copied below, there is nothing exciting or crazy going on at Yahoo.

For an industry that’s based on creativity and inspiring people, I don’t know why it’s so afraid. I don’t think it should be afraid to just try some crazy new stuff. But when I talk to people about online marketing, they just seem to freeze. … I thought this was going to be a much racier industry that wore black and got out there and rock and rolled and I see it being a little shier. I mean, I’m the crazy lady.