Yahoo is an extremely popular website, yet its stock has performed badly. Why? Because it sells stuff (banner ads) people don’t want to buy.
Carol Bartz, Yahoo CEO, said in 2009 that “My fortunes are tied to my pages.” Yahoo has a lot of pages and page views. It lives in a pre-Web world of pages, pages, pages. It is the ultimate Cult of Volume website.
In 2010, TechCrunch asked Bartz: “What is Yahoo?” Her reply was, “Yahoo is a company that is very strong in content. It’s moving towards the Web of one. We have 32,000 variations on our front page module. We serve a million of those a day. It’s all customized.”
It’s very hard to make money directly out of content on the Web. Content is an enabler, a facilitator. You can find ways to make money from other people’s content, but creating your own content and trying to make money directly from it, that’s not easy.
Bartz claims that Yahoo is customized, that it’s moving towards the “Web of one.” When I went to Yahoo recently I saw a big banner ad for a mobile phone plan that I definitely don’t want. This plan in no way meets my needs. Is that customization?