Yahoo: ‘Brands are still risk-averse about content creation’

Brands are still “risk averse” when it comes to creating original content for online audiences, according to Yahoo head of video Erin McPherson.


Speaking on a Cannes Lions panel alongside actor and comedian Jack Black and Summly news app founder Nick d’Aloisio, McPherson said video is  “critical to Yahoo’s mission” given its exponential growth and platform shift to mobile.

She added: “I’m finding we’re working with brands and brands are playing a major role in this migration of original content online, and underwriting the innovation, but there is still a lot of risk aversion in this community.”

She urged marketers and advertisers in Cannes to think about innovation and taking risks with content as well as thinking creatively because the medium of online content can reach audiences more quickly and be more fluid than traditional broadcast content.

“It’s not a $150m feature film. With online content brands are able to experiment, listen to the response  in real time and optimise the experience as they go. What’s really exciting working with brands in this space is that there are no rules. It can make it daunting [for brands] but we can create the rules together,” she said.

McPherson warned, however, that brands can make a “mis-step” with creating online content if they try to force the brand message without starting with the users’ interests.

Yahoo currently has 50 original content web series airing online but plans to increase and scale its offering. McPherson believes the next step to building online content is understanding how media organisations such as Yahoo make relevant content “discoverable” for consumers in the face of increasing volumes of available web content.

Speaking on the same panel, Nick d’Aloisio, founder of the Summly news app Yahoo acquired earlier this year for a reported £19m, said: “Time is the new currency. If I can alleviate that wasted time finding, searching and reading things you didn’t need to read, you have so much more productivity.  We’re [Yahoo is] looking at how we can do that through summarisation, curation and the discoverability of things.

“For years online has been about amalgamation [of content] … The next order of the web is how you refine it and make it small again like it was to start with. You get there through personalisation and summarisation.”

Keep up to date with all Marketing Week’s content from Cannes Lions 2013 here.

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