"Our mission is to make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining," said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to Fast Company editor and MD Robert Safian during their conversation at Advertising Week earlier today.
Strewn throughout her remarks – which included the words "user experience" at least a dozen times – were nuggets all marcomms pros should take to heart.
In the pursuit of the highest-quality content, the key ingredient – regardless of how the content is produced or on what platform – is the user interaction. Did people click on the links? If not, why not? It’s only great content if users think it’s great.
To accentuate her point, she highlighted numerous new Yahoo offerings that were built on that foundation. She spoke most proudly of Yahoo News Digest, which launched this past January. It wasn’t the quality of the stories or even the ease of navigation that she trumpeted most. She beamed about those, too, but considers that table stakes.
It was the "summarization technology" that tells users when they are done that brought the biggest smile to her face because – as Yahoo research has uncovered – it has brought a smile to many users’ faces.
When the conversation turned to advertising, Mayer brought up an interesting challenge that everyone in the space is tackling: When people watch television or read a print magazine, many do so to see the ads. When people visit websites, that sentiment is not prevalent about the ads, including those of the "native" variety.
It’s an obstacle that she is determined to overcome, as should be all brands and content creators. This is a real opportunity for the comms industry to create native ads that are so good that they alone will draw users to a site. It will make PR an even more important tool for brands than it already is.
Bringing things full circle, Mayer emphasized how quality content is the Holy Grail for brands. When sites such as Yahoo create and curate the quality content users want to engage with – including ads – it makes such sites more desirable for brands to associate with. It also increases the amount of time users will stay on a site, which is a key metric for anybody in the digital space. Moreover, that content creates an experience that will prompt users to try other offerings on your site. It works for Yahoo and it can work for your brand, too.