Yahoo had no choice but to sell its core Internet business. “The race for Internet dominance comes down to Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Yahoo can continue to play a role as a niche player, or they can try to sell off their primary business units and cash out,” observes David Rodnitzky, CEO of 3Q Digital, whose clients include Hewlett-Packard and SiriusXM.
As the star players feverishly build a global digital marketplace, Yahoo’s presence continues to diminish. Its share of display ads will drop to 4.4% this year from above 5% in 2014 and its search share will decline nearly a full percentage point to 4.4%, according to eMarketer.
Despite Yahoo’s lowered profile, the move announced this week could have an impact on marketing activity, say agency pros. “From a marketing perspective it is not really good because you’re limiting your options for placement. It’s likely the buyer will be looking at the deal from a financial perspective and will not be interested in investing in the platform,” says Martin Reidy, CEO of performance marketing agency Ansira, which does work for the likes of BMW, FedEX, and Domino’s.
Fluent EVP Sean Cullen hopes that a buyer will take Yahoo and run with it. “A Yahoo separated from its investments will be measured against its core business, leading to greater accountability and focus. This should result in a greater drive to expand search market share and to provide marketers with better ad products,” he says. Fluent is an ad tech platform whose clients include Walmart, MasterCard, and Southwest Airlines.
Since the bulk of Yahoo’s $32 billion market capitalization is invested in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, some financial analysts pose that Yahoo’s core business is no longer worth anything to the company. But marketers see gems in the refuse heap. “Yahoo still has a huge and valuable database of email users and related Web history and transactional behaviors that marketers are very interested in,” says Reidy. “I hope this does not get overlooked and wither on the vine, like what happened with MySpace when Facebook took them down.”