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Yahoo's Lisa Utzschneider says ‘it’s just business as usual’ despite takeover rumours as it attempts to roll out new storytelling assets

Lisa Utzschneider, Yahoo's CRO, is attending Cannes Lions this week meeting with the online web giant’s strategic partners and media agencies to discuss what it can offer them, but of course the question over the future of the company remains.

Multiple rumours over its impending sale remain, with U.S. telco rivals AT&T plus (AOL-owner) Verizon Wireless, among a host of other names said to be in the running at the final stages of the auction of Yahoo’s core internet assets.

Estimates over the final price tag of Yahoo’s assets ranging anywhere from $3bn to $5bn, the process is expected to conclude by the end of next month. Surely, this looming cloud of speculation must have a bearing over the conversations that Utzschneider et al. will be having at this year’s event?

When quizzed on the matter, Utzschneider acknowledges that “everyone is very curious”, and the the ongoing press speculation can be “distracting”, but for now it’s just business as usual.

Meanwhile, the message to advertisers (as well as her colleagues) that right now Yahoo is “just heads down and focused on the business… when we meet with a lot of the agencies, they acknowledge that, and say ‘you’re right’, you have to just keep the business going.”

“I’ve been meeting with agencies, and other strategic partners to talk about what our 2016 strategy is, and one core component of that strategy is Yahoo Storytellers and what that is, is content marketing with ROI,” she says.

Yahoo’s advertising strategy going forward sits within three buckets: content; data, ad technology. Utzschneider says that despite the ongoing speculation its three-pronged proposition remains of interest to marketers.

Content

This follows on from previous iterations of Yahoo’s content marketing proposition by combining its various assets, such as its wholly-owned entities (such as Yahoo Finance, etc.), along with its data and analytics assets, as well as its native advertising capabilities to combine into a single entity.

“It’s about combining all of that together, and getting involved earlier in the process when they’re ideating and coming up with what the creative experience should be like, and (if needed) bringing in third party production companies,” she explains.

To date, brands such as Jet Blue, Farmer’s Insurance, and Tesani have worked with Yahoo in creating these “marketing solutions”, according to Utzschneider who articulates Yahoo’s desires to work with brands further up the purchase marketing and purchase funnel.

Data

She further explains that Yahoo’s vast banks of data analytics (through its ownership of Yahoo Mail, Search, plus the various assets of its BrightRoll ad stack) can be used to further hone its proposition to marketers, adding that it wants to be involved in “co-creation” of campaign ideas.

“We’re creating a more defined data strategy, so we’re able to leverage our data [from the assets mentioned above] so that we can better match up our editorial content, and also to be able to demonstrate an ROI from that experience we have created,” adds Utzschneider.

Ad tech

Yahoo has further honed its ad tech proposition over the last two years, jettisoning its Right Media Xchange brand in favour of combining its ad tech offering under the BrightRoll brand after it invested close to $1bn in such companies across 2014, and 2015.

“We purchased BrightRoll about 18 months ago, along with Flurry about a year and a half ago, to offer marketers the best video and display DSP experience, and that’s also leveraged in our storytelling solution,” she adds.

This streamlined offering now means advertisers can better use the Yahoo offering to seamlessly execute the advertising element of any aforementioned marketing strategy that Yahoo co-creates with a brand.

A key point of differentiation for, other storytelling propositions currently being discussed at Cannes is Yahoo’s ability to prove ROI, says Utzschneider.

“I bet if you looked back at some of the [press] stories at Cannes five years ago, you’d see a lot about storytelling, but not a lot about measuring the efficacy of telling the story,” she adds.

More news from Cannes Lions can be found on The Drum's dedicated news site.