Yesterday, I spent the day in scenic, Burbank, California. No, I wasn’t there to get myself one of those Hollywood-style smoking citations; I was attending Yahoo Agency Day on behalf of Wpromote. Yahoo was kind enough to invite Wpromote to give input on Yahoo’s Search Marketing platform and I was kind enough to drive an hour and a half to be there. Good deal!
Thanks to a pretty imposing NDA that I was forced to sign upon entry, there is a lot that I can’t talk about, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time and get to discuss some of the issues regarding Yahoo Search Marketing with some very attentive Yahoos.
I arrived at Yahoo’s Southern California HQ right on time. After parking, asking for directions from someone who parked near me and then walking a country mile, I was able to get to the right building, put down a cup of free coffee and a $0.50 bagel right before they opened up the main room to guests. Mistake number one became evident right away; I just blew $0.50. Yahoo had a lovely array of fruit, bagels and danishes along with fresh OJ and coffee. After lamenting my purchase, there was a quick introduction from one of the higher ups at Yahoo. He also discussed the Yahoo/Google non-exclusive partnership briefly and then it was time for my favorite part of the day, the panel discussion.
The panel discussion was amazing. There’s nothing I like doing more than telling people what they’re doing wrong and how they should change in order to do it right. I probably should have been a consultant or a high school football coach, but I digress… Basically, Yahoo set up a member of each agency at a long table laden with microphones and got our opinions on everything in the world related to Yahoo. We discussed troubles with the UI, glitches with the API, needed improvements to geo-targeting and content matching, concerns with billing and more. It was pretty heated and none too complementary, however, it was handled with all the professionalism and appreciation that you would expect from a company like Yahoo. By that, I mean a company with a great past and something to prove.
Yahoo has always been a solid company with good ideas. They have always known how to innovate and when they have gotten stumped, they have partnered with or bought up smart companies like Overture and Flickr to keep the ideas flowing and progress going. Sure, Google has blown a lot of the former giants out of the water, but that doesn’t mean that Yahoo isn’t still as receptive and hungry to improve as ever.
To prove it, after a nice lunch, the rest of the day was full of presentations about Yahoo’s upcoming advances. Some of them were expected, some were a little underwhelming but others showed the intuition and insight of a company still brimming with talent. Of course, I can’t really discuss any of them (damn you, NDA!) but I will say that there is a lot of pretty cool stuff coming down the pipe in near future.
After the sessions were finished, I enjoyed a beer or two with our account rep as well as some engineers and product managers at the agency mixer. The most common topic of conversation was Yahoo’s appreciation for Wpromote’s input and an echoing that these upcoming changes can’t come soon enough. You’ve got to like that attitude and you’ve got to admire Yahoo’s mettle.
I certainly do and I can’t wait for Yahoo to give Google the fight for market share that they both deserve.