Yahoo! Yahoo gets a makeover

yahoo1.jpg Yahoo is about to make a radical change to its home page — mostly trying to make it a more personal experience. It begins testing the page, on a small basis, today, Reuters reports.

For any of you out there who get a chance to play around with it, let us know what you think.

For the moment, here’s what were looking at…

The new home page relies on slick personalization technology that allows users who have signed into their Yahoo account to see when new information arrives not just on Yahoo sites, like e-mail or news, but off-Yahoo on sites such as eBay Inc’s auctions or Google Inc’s Gmail service.

Instead of whisking people to these sites, users can see a preview of the information while staying on the home page, which allows them to quickly navigate across a range of their favorite sites.

Why is Yahoo tinkering with the site? Well, let’s remember that this is a company locked in a battle for Internet popularity with Google (who it also has an ad deal with — see below). And shareholders have been grumbling ever since a potential merger with Microsoft fell through, The Wall Street Journal points out.

All eyes on Goldman — the conference, that is

goldman.jpgWe’ll be paying close attention to Goldman Sachs today for reasons other than the wrenching financial crisis. Our interest relates to the investment bank’s Communacopia conference, an annual meeting of some top media players.

Of course, it’s impossible to escape Wall Street’s woes, even at a media conference. After all, there are questions about the ripple effect on the economy — and that includes the advertising business, the bread and butter of media.

We spoke to a number of experts and the consensus was that while financial services make up just 6 percent of advertising spending in the United States, which is no small sum, the bigger issue is the influence that the crisis has on confidence throughout Corporate America. Watching this week’s turmoil, will corporations be as free with spending?

NBC’s super ad sales


NBC’s sports department is having quite a year. We all know about the Olympics, but now it appears they are raking in money for the 2009 Super Bowl.

The broadcaster said yesterday that it has sold 85 percent of its commercial time for the game — and a dozen spots have gone for $3 million.

It’s worth remembering that there was some snickering when word spread that NBC wanted to sell time for $3 million. I mean, come on! $3 million? In this economy?

From weird to weirder, Microsoft has Gates do the robot

The first Jerry Seinfeld/Bill Gates commercial that debuted last week got a reception about as warm as the one received by the product it was supposed to be promoting: Windows Vista. For those who missed the 2007 debut of Vista, the answer is not very.

Now there are two more commercials in the series and they are two more 90-second head-scratcher. The basic plot line: Bill and Jerry live with a family to get in touch with “real people.” High jinks ensue, leading to Gates doing the robot. The sequels are sure to draw as much criticism as the original, but they may also achieve their intended goal: get people talking about Microsoft again.

The ad campaign — created by agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky — is part of Microsoft’s $300 million effort to try to improve the image of Windows and hit back at Apple, which has effectively portrayed Windows as clunky and out-of-touch with its Mac vs. PC commercials.

Slim chance for New York Times Co.


Few investors are interested in newspapers these days — except for the super rich.

Carlos Slim, who Forbes lists as the world’s second-richest man, has picked up a 6.4 percent stake in The New York Times Co.

Asked by Reuters why he bought a stake in the publishing company that owns The New York Times, Boston Globe and other assets, Slim said “It’s financial.” The suggestion there is that he is not making a strategic move into U.S. media.

So what’s the outlook for media?


For the media business, the next couple of days will likely set the tone for the remainder of the year. Why? Because just about everyone who is anyone will be speaking at a Merrill Lynch conference out in California.

We’re talking about CBS, News Corp, Liberty Media, Time Warner, NBC Universal, etc. You get the picture.

We suspect the catchphrase of the conference will be something like “cautious.” It’s highly unlikely that executives will tell us the media industry is awful, terrible, or horrible.

Advertisers: Not so fast Yahoo…

yahoo.jpgThe Google-Yahoo deal is coming under more fire – this time from advertisers.

The Association of National Advertisers has sent a letter to U.S. regulators objecting to the proposed Internet search advertising partnership between Yahoo and Google, supplying critics with even more fodder to shoot down the deal.

Essentially, the ANA is saying that the deal will give too much control over online advertising to one partnership. The group’s stance isn’t to be taken lightly, since they represent big players like General Motors and Procter & Gamble.

Bill Gates + Jerry Seinfeld = What?!!???

microsoft.jpgJerry Seinfeld, a huge marketing budget, and well-respected agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky would seem a recipe for success. Unfortunately for Microsoft, which kicked off a $300 million advertising campaign last night, the first commercial debuted to lukewarm reviews.

Microsoft is hoping to improve the image of its Windows Vista operating system and take some of the sting out of those popular “Mac vs. PC” advertisements run by Apple. It hired Seinfeld to help, and the first commercial featured the comedian and Bill Gates at a shoe store.

The problem, it seems, is that many people just didn’t get the commercial.  Here’s a sampling.

Microsoft to drop $300 mln in cool quest

seinfeld-bee.jpgTired of being the punch line in Apple’s wildly successful “Get a Mac” ad campaign, Microsoft has pulled out the big guns and turned to … comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The software giant is planning on spending about $300 million to clean up its image, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pop quiz: What has Jerry done since “Seinfeld” went off the air some ten years ago? (Does “Bee Movie” count if he never actually shows his face?)

Consider, even the nerdy PC guy in Apple’s ads — author and humorist John Hodgman, whom Wired deemed cool enough to grace its cover last year– has kept busy lately. In between writing books and stories for The Paris Review, Wired and the New York Times, he’s found time to pop up on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and host lectures in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which at one time or another suffered the reputation as hipster central.

Take cover: Forecast darkens for cable spending

storm-clouds.jpgAnybody out there in TV land riding an Olympic buzz (NBC’s ratings have been scorching) will be brought back down to earth by these numbers from SNL Kagan.

Cable TV ad revenue is forecast to grow at just 4.7 percent in 2009, the firm says. That compares to growth of about up 10 percent for 2008, when cable has been one of the few bright spots for media.  Or as paidContent sums it up, ”This year appears bad enough for media revenues, but for cable TV, 2009 is nothing to look forward to.”

The SNL Kagan numbers back up concerns that were voiced in an article by Reuters’ Kenneth Li after Viacom’s quarterly earnings report last month.