It might sound like pure fiction, but trust us: Yahoo still exists. The once-mighty search engine and news site long ago lost pace with a scrappy little underdog called Google, and has not regained its footing since. Using Yahoo for anything these days, whether it be for searching or e-mail, is enough to make one automatically feel fifteen years older. And since that’s a feeling most of us would sooner not experience, Yahoo remains sadly neglected.
Well finally, the people in charge are doing something about it. They have a two-step plan to bring people back to Yahoo and keep them there:
1. Deliver high-quality, original content on a regular basis, instead of just copy/pasting the day’s news alongside wacky material that anybody can gleam from ten minutes on Reddit.
2. Hire famous people to deliver it.
Yes, in a move that showcases, if nothing else, that Yahoo still has plenty of money, the company has hired legendary broadcaster Katie Couric as its Global Anchor, which is a fancy way of saying “interviewer.” Couric’s job will be to conduct one-on-one’s with various other famous people, something she’s proven very good at over the years. Yahoo’s hope is that, through Couric’s built-in fanbase, the site will be seen as just as much a force now as it was during Web 1.0.
Apparently deciding that having one of the most famous journalists in history on their payroll just wasn’t enough, Yahoo has also signed David Pogue, long-tenured columnist for the New York Times, to run a consumer technology blog for the site. In addition to his famed words, Pogue will be posting plenty of tech-related videos as well.
Put the two together, and you start to figure out what’s going on: Yahoo CE Marissa Mayer is seeking to rebuild the Yahoo Empire on a foundation of video-based content marketing. The videos and blogs will, in theory anyhow, be entertaining, unique, interesting and most importantly, exclusive to the site. If successful, Yahoo will gain a reputation as a go-to source for great original content, delivered consistently by trusted industry names.
We cannot emphasize the exclusive part enough, by the way. In today’s world, where everybody’s online and many people are interested in the same stuff, an epidemic of non-originality has been brewing. Knowing that many people are only going to pay attention to the site they’re reading (and might not even commit the URL to memory,) more and more sites see no issue with copying, piggybacking, or downright plagiarizing each other’s material. In less than ten minutes, you could see the same exact story, told the same exact way, on Buzzfeed, Viralnova, Upworthy, Distractify, and other similar sites. All this does is create a dearth of content marketing where it doesn’t matter how you tell the story, but how loudly and how often you yell it.
If a site like Yahoo can shift the focus back to original content with actual material and fresh takes, instead of blatant clickbait that parrots other blatant clickbait to score some cheap Likes and Shares, then it’ll be doing a service to us all. Even if you can’t afford to hire, say, Matt Lauer for your website, you have to applaud anybody willing to be different, and to create content that tells the world, “WE made this. If you want more of this, come to US.”
That being said, if Matt Lauer wants to work for us, we’re certainly willing to talk. We can’t pay as much as NBC, but we can promise a Kathie Lee-free work environment. And to be honest, that’s way more important than money.
Jason Iannone is a writer and editor who probably isn’t getting invited to Kathie Lee’s house anytime soon. Probably not Hoda Kotb’s either, since he still has no idea how to pronounce her last name.
Photo Credit: Tom