Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Yahoo Set to Unveil Massive New Marketing Campaign at Advertising Week, Declaring Size Does Matter


Yahoo is set to unveil a major marketing campaign to reset advertiser and consumer perception of the long-troubled company during Advertising Week in New York, which starts a week from tomorrow.

According to numerous sources BoomTown has spoken to about the campaign, Yahoo (YHOO) is–at least with advertisers–going to focus on stressing the size and scale of the Internet giant.

The details of the plan will be made public Tuesday, Sept. 22, at a press conference.

It will take place immediately after a keynote speech–titled “Yahoo’s Consumer Revolution…Round II”–that the company’s new CMO, Elisa Steele, is set to deliver on the second day of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX conference.

MIXX is a two-day event, run by IAB, focused specifically on online advertising.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is also going to be attending Advertising Week–during which all the major players in the advertising business gather in Manhattan for a series of events–for a plethora of meetings with big Yahoo clients.

It is likely she and several other senior Yahoo execs will be at the press conference, sources said.

That press event will also include Penny Baldwin, a well-known industry exec Yahoo hired as its SVP of global integrated marketing and brand management in July.

The main message Bartz is set to deliver is that Yahoo is a powerhouse unlike any others on the Web when it comes to online display advertising.

And, in fact, Yahoo–despite all the internal and external turmoil it has undergone in recent years–remains one of the largest sites on the Internet, and is the top player in what is also called graphical advertising, as well as online media and communications.

“The whole push seems to be to remind people of vibrancy of the brand and exactly how huge its reach is,” said one person who has seen parts of the presentation. “It is less Yahoo is back than Yahoo has never left.”

Sources also noted that Yahoo is likely to stick to its plan to push the idea of “your home on the Web” to consumers, which I had previously posted about earlier this summer.

The idea of the Silicon Valley icon being the key hub destination for Internet users does dovetail with pushing its size to advertisers–major marketing messages that will also likely cost a pretty penny.

They will have to–Microsoft (MSFT) has been in the midst of a $100 million campaign for its new Bing search site and will likely spend more when it unveils updates to the service, dubbed Bing 2.0–within the next few weeks.

The company showed the changes it showed to its own employees last week, which was the subject of much tweeting on Twitter.

Yahoo will apparently give more specifics as to the spend for the marketing push at the press conference.

But, many sources said, the company is already out in the advertising market now, buying tens of millions of dollars in advertising online and offline to hawk Yahoo in print, on television and elsewhere.

(Full disclosure: Sources said that campaign will include The Wall Street Journal network, which includes this site.)

“It’s dramatic,” said one source about the marketing outlay.

Since she got to Yahoo, Bartz has continually stressed the need to promote Yahoo products and services more, including in an interview last week on CNBC (you can see that longish video here).

And, in the July earnings call for Yahoo, Bartz said: “In addition, we’re hard at work on plans to reposition our most valuable asset: Yahoo’s brand. Our Q3 plans include an initial wave of incremental marketing spend which will increase substantially into Q4 and next year.”

Also, in a Q&A in the same call, she added more about the long-term nature of the spending on branding:

“The branding and our whole campaign of advertising is just starting; however you have to understand that this is an ongoing campaign so it’s not transient at least for the next year or so. We’re really going to move to reposition the Yahoo brand and Yahoo Company, so right now, consider that as cost that’s in the system.”

What Bartz and other Yahoo execs will likely stress less is search, due to the search deal Yahoo struck in July with Microsoft in which the software giant will take over the back-end technology and Yahoo will sell search ads for both companies.

The company will compete with both Microsoft and Google (GOOG) in garnering the search market still, once the partnership is approved by regulators, with Yahoo focusing on differentiating itself via innovative user interface, design, features and functionality.

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