Yahoo’s Levinsohn: Audience Before Ads

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January 24, 2012 – 7:21 pm

Yahoo!It's been a year since Yahoo launched its connected TV platform at CES. So far, the app comes shipped on 70 TV models made by Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and Vizio. And while the service boasts 50,000 TV shows and movies, you don't hear too much about advertising.

There's good reason for that, according to Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo!'s EVP Americas Region, who spoke to TVExchanger following an appearance at the NATPE conference in Miami. And in the terms of priorities, the portal's TV focus is primarily concentrated on premium video plays like Yahoo's deal with Tom Hanks on an animated series called Electric City, and IntoNow, the social TV app the company acquired last April for what Techcrunch estimated, at the time, was between $20 and $30 million.

So when will these efforts generate significant revenues? All in due time, Levinsohn said.

"With these new platforms, before you can talk seriously about ads, you need to amass an audience," Levinsohn said. "The more barriers you put up, the harder it is to build that audience. We should worry first about how to make consumers comfortable -and secondly, about monetizing it."

Levinsohn said he's pleased with IntoNow's numbers, especially based on the recent Golden Globes broadcast.

About 27 percent of those who checked in during the Golden Globes  participated in real-time polls during the broadcast, though the company didn't say specifically how many people checked in.  Overall, across iOS and Android, Yahoo has had over 2 million downloads of IntoNow. Two weeks ago, IntoNow rival GetGlue said it, too, had crossed the 2 million user mark.

GetGlue, which is independent, likewise said that profitability is not a focus right now and the revenues from its marketing deals are quite small.

At this point, Yahoo and GetGlue are trumpeting advertiser and audience "interest," not dollars. It's hard to say at what point these services will scale, but unless there is significant user growth this year, marketers and audiences may regard these tools as mere fads. Or, the existing social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which social TV apps depend on as their prime marketing tools, could decide to produce their own entertainment check-in functions.

"We’re working with select advertisers, educating them about these new extensions of the Yahoo brand," Levinsohn said. "But there's no rush. We’re going to see more people use these platforms over the next 2 to 4 years. That's when you'll start to see wider interest from advertisers."

By David Kaplan


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January 24, 2012 – 7:21 pm
  1. One Response to “Yahoo’s Levinsohn: Audience Before Ads”

  2. From the Ray Kinsella school of strategy, "If you build it they will come," and yet I think Ross is correct when he says:

    "With these new platforms, before you can talk seriously about ads, you need to amass an audience," Levinsohn said. "The more barriers you put up, the harder it is to build that audience. We should worry first about how to make consumers comfortable -and secondly, about monetizing it."

    Yahoo's past strategy has always been centered on monetizing assets, and not building that core of assets. Its nice to see an executive who is worried about the foundation and not a new roof.

    [Reply]

    By Jimmy Bogroff on Jan 26, 2012

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