Yahoo strikes global content partnerships with UK publishers as it steps up ambitions to lead news

Yahoo strikes content deal with the Guardian, Telegraph, ESI Media and Hearst

Yahoo has inked content distribution deals with premium UK publishers The Telegraph, the Guardian, The Independent, the Evening Standard and Hearst UK as the platform looks to grow its news output and provide UK brands with a global distribution platform that promises to revenue share on an equally beneficial basis.

The content from the five publishers will sit within its four priority verticals; news, sports, finance and lifestyle. Yahoo said it has no plans to introduce further verticals as it expands its content partnerships. The partnerships extend across the UK, the US, Canada, India and Singapore, with access to Yahoo's over 1 billion monthly users worldwide.

The content, which includes articles and video, will be distributed on a curated feed that uses both editorial judgment and algorithmic ranking. It offers an alternative to publishing content on third party platforms like Facebook and Google where content is purely in the hands of an algorithm.

“We don't rely purely on an algorithm like some others do,” says Greg Miall, director of global partnerships at Yahoo.

The algorithm that Yahoo uses is a combination of a user’s personal interests, what everyone else is clicking on and what is really important in the news. Depending on the country, the platform can have more or less personalisation. In the US, for example, there is more personalisation “because it is a more diverse country”, Miall says.

“It is an interesting model because when you look at the storm around news globally, it is a nice way of ensuring users are seeing quality journalism,” he adds.

In the midst of a fake news crisis and social media ‘echo chamber’, the platform has sought partnerships with publishers on the left and the right of political views “to make sure we give our audience a whole political spectrum of commentary”, Miall says.

The deals include a revenue share agreement using Yahoo’s native advertising marketplace Gemini. Advertising will appear within each article to reach and engage relevant audiences with highly-targeted content. Miall said the revenue arrangement is an "equally beneficial" one between Yahoo and the publishers.

“We are monetising their articles in exactly the same way we monetise our own articles. We are absolutely trying to maximize the money we make from a page view. If we are sharing equally there is no conflict of interest,” Miall said.

It's a move that signals the five publishers are "making a big push to become global brands", says Miall. He claims Yahoo is the number one on ComScore for news in the US, and Yahoo Finance is number one in the finance sector, providing the publishers with a “completely untapped pool of users they haven’t got access to and wouldn’t get access to anywhere else”.

“When you go for a distributed content model you want to be totally certain that what you are reaching is a group of people you currently don't have access to. If we have a billion users globally and you are sitting there as a publisher in the UK and have got 20-30m uniques - we are talking about whole swathes of people who have never read your content or potentially don't even know your brand," he says.

"If you were to think about that in an organic growth way, you would have to spend huge amounts of marketing money to get those people."

The partnerships also provide Yahoo with access to quality content to build on their existing verticals, an alternative to “employing masses of journalists to try to cover every piece of news out there”, says Miall, who absolutely sees partnerships as the future.

“It should be a combination of the best of Yahoo journalists with the best of the brands we have partnered with,” he adds.

The digital brand will also be looking to scale up to make itself look more attractive to Verizon as it approaches a deal to acquire, following a number of recent hacking disasters that have cannibalised the price of the bid by up to $350m.

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