Yahoo CEO Ousted - Can a Leadership Change Rebuild the Yahoo Brand?

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Posted Sep 14, 2011
Susan Gunelius

This month, Yahoo! followed through on a leadership shift that has been expected for months. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was ousted through what Bartz described in an email to Yahoo! employees as a phone call with no notice and no successor in place. The Yahoo! brand has been struggling for years and the business world, stockholders, and consumers have been wondering for a long time what exactly Yahoo! is -- a search site, a display advertising company, a media company, or something else? With the news of Bartz’s firing, AYTM asked our national consumer opinion panel to share their thoughts about Yahoo! The enlightening results follow.

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Consumers Rate Yahoo!

The first finding that stands out from the AYTM survey results is that people who have heard of Yahoo! primarily view it as a general content site. When asked to choose a description that best represents Yahoo!, respondents answered as follows:

  • General content site = 51%
  • Search engine = 36% (although Bing currently powers Yahoo! search results)
  • News site = 13%

In fact, when respondents provided a word they would use to describe Yahoo! and examples of what Yahoo! would need to do to get them to visit and use the site more frequently, the responses were quite consistent. Respondents cited the same things again and again, including:

  • Navigation: Respondents say the site is too cluttered, and the pages change too frequently.
  • Product integration: Respondents don’t know what else the site offers and say they can’t find it anyway.
  • Personalization: Yahoo! content picks aren’t relevant to respondents.
  • Usability: Respondents think load times are too slow, and it takes too long to navigate to the services users access frequently such as email.
  • Behavior: Respondents are used to using other sites for certain features. A behavior change is necessary to shift them to Yahoo!

When asked to rate Yahoo! in terms of innovation, 54% of respondents believed that Yahoo! is innovative, 62% believed Yahoo! is relevant, and 64% believed that Yahoo! is trustworthy. 67% claimed that Yahoo! is useful to them, and 57% stated that Yahoo! is important to them. However, only 44% identified that they feel Yahoo! is an authoritative site. That lack of authority could have a significant impact on the Yahoo! brand promise and consumers’ perceptions of the Yahoo! brand.You can view the complete survey results and get all the details below.

Internet Users Want Yahoo! to Succeed

Two things stand out from analyzing the results of this survey that are important to note. First, most respondents think positively about Yahoo! even if they don’t visit the site frequently. They want Yahoo! to succeed. Second, while many people still perceive Yahoo! to be a search engine, very few respondents indicated that Yahoo! needs to improve its search results. Far more respondents want Yahoo! to improve navigation, site clutter, usability, and content relevancy.It will be very interesting to watch what happens to Yahoo! with new leadership. Can the company finally decide what its brand promise will be? We’ll have to wait and see.Image: Yodel Anecdotal

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