Tag Archives: Yahoo!

Digital Upgrade At Your Own Risk – Brand Be Damned!

It seems that many apps and digital offerings have been updated since the beginning of the year – and an interesting trend has taken shape. What once was so wonderfully free – with few ad breaks and just slightly more privacy – has turned the corner and has become, well… less. Additionally, a huge sector of mobile users that excitedly upgraded to Android 4.3 before the end of the year have only further lamented the multitude of issues they’ve encountered since (with battery life reducing drastically being a consistent theme).  All of this leads to the question – To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade?  Unfortunately, in many instances, the consumer never gets the chance to question and the brand is damned to stumble.

Screenshot_2014-01-28-16-57-38

The gray area is meant to have content served within.

 

In the case of ESPN, they chose to re-brand their scores and news app to be more aligned with their colossal SportsCenter brand – changing it from Scorecenter to SportsCenter. That change makes sense – as does the twitter feed from their on-air personalities.  What’s more challenging is that the app is much more volatile (see above) with nothing showing much of the time.  Even more annoying is the fact that users now have to log in or register in order to automatically keep track of their favorite teams. For most, this might not be an issue, but for those trying to hold on to the last piece of privacy, that component might be a deal breaker. The fact that there’s now far more advertising with page overlays and in-feed ads only adds salt to the wound.

Diminished revenue generation is definitely an issue for all content providers, but it will be interesting to see how conversion plays out as more and more previously free apps move into the paid model. Since the new year, at least 4 of my news apps have moved behind a paywall – with only headlines available for free – rendering it useless. Hopefully, we’ll soon see the ramifications – one way or the other – on this change soon. We’ll definitely see if people have an appetite for paying in multiple places for content.

Even in the free realm, questionable choices have been made:

  • ABC force upgraded the app leaving users with a lot less content choices and a lot more ill will. Checking the ratings on the App Store and Google Play shows a very large distaste for something that was the standard bearer for innovative video presentation. With the previous usage and inability to skip through commercials, it made sense.  Who knows what will happen now.
  • Yahoo! changed their mobile product to supposedly simplify their content delivery. The only problem is that the UI leads one to believe that if they click on search, they’ll be able to search within the category (i.e.,Entertainment, Sports, Life), only to find that it takes them out of the app environment and to their general search interface.
  • Sporting News is struggling to keep from crashing as they deal with issues stemming from iOS 7 in their newest update. The fix might come with the supposed release of iOS 7.1 in March, but that brings us to the next issue.

With all of the concerns users have with upgrading already – and the worries of what they will have to learn or not have access to – is the update to iOS 7.1 or Android’s 4.4 KitKat one that people will venture into widely or quickly?  Microsoft is having it’s own issues getting consumers to upgrade Windows OS – especially as people realized how much was still left to be done with each release. Is the same lack of concern for the user experience – and the interest of meeting ambiguous deadlines worthwhile for consumers who are quick to pull the trigger and move elsewhere? A concern is that, among developers, there is an excuse permeating that everyone expects issues. How sad is that?

The debate can continue as to whether it’s human nature to always want the new bright and shiny object. But, it is pretty clear cut that when forced to the new, something good should be delivered.  If companies/brands keep forcing the issue, they might be damned to losing the loyalty of those who just want to keep interacting the way they always have.

Yahoo! and ABC News Buzzing About Tying The Knot… Or Just Domestic Partners?

Many are quick to downplay Yahoo’s relevance as Google and Facebook make large gains in revenue while Yahoo’s growth is relatively flat.  They have been working hard to temper the charge from their competitors and announced their latest salvo yesterday by forging a larger partnership with ABC news.

Ross Levinsohn, EVP of the Americas at Yahoo!, intimated that he thinks the partnership can “revolutionize the online and digital news landscape.  On the other side of the partnership, ABC News president, Ben Sherwood, wanted to do something “transformative.”  It remains to be seen where the “revolutionary” and “transformative” shows itself in this equation as Sherwood even said himself that the network was already providing a quarter of the video streams on Yahoo! News.

Part of Yahoo’s strategy of late is to provide more exclusive video content and this partnership would certainly help if it extended to other parts of ABC beyond news.  A byproduct of the relationship will be a new joint site for Good Morning America.  This could lead to some interesting content opportunities on both the site and in the broadcast show if they do things right.  Beyond that, they are looking to produce some more original series with news talent.

The reach of a combined 100 Million users each month that was touted in the press release is all fine and good if they manage the relationship properly and make full use of the available resources.  There is already a concern about having both sales teams with a hand in the selling – supposedly ABC will handle sales as part of upfront and Yahoo! would handle all other sales.

Whatever excitement there might be over this, it is essentially deflated when watching the video they posted – you can see it through the link above – which leads you to wonder whether this deeper relationship was necessary.  If Yahoo! was already showing the content and ABC has had its site around for so long, was there really much to gain from this?  Could this just be the first step of ABC/Disney acquiring Yahoo! like it has been rumoured for over a decade?  I think that’s probably not the case, but its interesting that they would forge such a formal relationship at this point.  One thing is for sure, whether Yahoo! is desperate or not, at least they are making some decisions that at least make relative sense.  They have to do something because their revenues that are higher than Facebook (for now) doesn’t get the buzz it might deserve and buzz is what it has become all about.

My How Things Change – Innovation or Desperation?

An AllThingsD blog report came out today about a partnership announced at a dinner the other night by AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo.  I guess it depends on which side of the dinner table you’re on to determine whether it is a genius form of innovation or a sad bit of desperation from companies struggling to maintain market share. Their plan is to group together to sell each other’s “Class 2 Display” inventory centrally and share the revenues.  By doing this, they can make more money as they don’t need to be served by ad networks and therefore pay the middle men.  In theory, it seems to be ho-hum at best – especially when they are supposedly allowing ad networks to continue selling the same inventory.

In human terms, it wasn’t long ago that all of these companies were at the absolute top of the world and in control.  In technology, that time was forever ago.  Google has certainly taken the throne from an ad perspective and everyone else is trying to catch up.  Bing didn’t work as well as Microsoft hoped. Yahoo is still trying to figure things out in the hopes of being somewhat relevant (small disclaimer that I still appreciate a bit of what Yahoo is offering if only because my personal email is a Yahoo account) and I wouldn’t even think of AOL in terms of being relevant after what happened to that Time Warner empire they owned.  Sure, these are still three large players in the scheme of things, but it is amazing how quickly fortunes can change.  I definitely heard grumblings of how those three were invincible in the same way I hear about Facebook and Google today.

It certainly seems like a desperate attempt to maintain revenue margins if not share of market.  I guess I would have been more impressed if they had used their powers to develop something truly innovative – not just a reshaping of something that already exists – to enable stronger targeting across their sites, easier planning interfaces across the three or some other media benefit. A bigger fear is that advertising on any of those becomes more challenging than it sometimes is on Hulu with multiple owner/players.  At this point, it leaves a bunch of media buyers asking “what’s in it for me?”  I hope the dinner was good…