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Why Yahoo is like the New York Times

November 17, 2013

Image representing Yahoo! as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend an event at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. While there, I was able to tour Twitter, Klout, Yahoo and then Google.

As I reflected on the visit, it occurred to me that Yahoo and Twitter are content platforms. They are more than tech companies, they are media companies, like the New York Times – and they make money through advertising.

In July, Yahoo had 196.6 million unique monthly visitors. Games, e-mail and real estate led the way for Yahoo. According to Quantcast, the New York Times has about 18 million users a month.

A little under 180 million less than Yahoo.

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The New York Times is a media company that is turning into a tech company. Yahoo is a tech company that is turning into a media company. Both look for eyeballs and then sell those to advertisers. Both pay people to create content, and both make money selling eyeballs to advertisers. The difference is in how they think about readers.

As a traditional newspaper, the Times thinks about relevant content for readership en mass. They are the very definition of a mass advertiser, where an ad in the paper goes to millions of people.

Yahoo, on the other hand, is a tech company first. Alongside the content, they have tools like mail, Flickr, Yahoo Finance that ask for a log in. Since people consume the content while logged in, Yahoo collects data about the people. Yahoo (along with Twitter, Google and Facebook) then create detailed personas based on real information. Yahoo knows what people look at when logging into their site.

Unlike other online media properties, Yahoo can deliver ads based on interest – a more powerful argument for a brand. Facebook, Twitter and Google also do this, and if the New York Times wants to survive, they’ll have to think like a tech company.

What do you think?

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