Sunday, April 06, 2008

Shine - Yahoo’ s latest marketing blunder?

Yahoo just launched a new site:
In contrast to Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Sports, Entertainment, Yahoo Tech and Yahoo Green, this site is targeting a specific audience and not just a topic.
The target audience is women, or in Yahoo lingo “Chief Household Officers” between 24 and 54.
Yahoo claims that Shine doesn’t aim to tap into the stereotypes used by marketers and advertisers to decide what content women should be interested in.
The site should be a one-size-fits-all, since “it doesn’t want to be a site just for moms or just for single women or working women, or any specific demo- or psychographic

Yahoo is ambitious – it wants to become the top destination site in the lifestyles category.
According to Amy Iorio, general manager of Lifestyles at Yahoo, women are a great demographic target. This is not based on women being roughly 50% of humanity, but on the number of female Yahoo users - 40 million between the ages of 25 and 54 each month.
However, most women more than one (free) Yahoo account, and many spammers use female aliases – facts that seem to elude Yahoo.
Shine’s all female staff is geared to avoid the normal “chick” headlines – completely failing in their current attempts.

To illustrate, I give you a short rundown of the main headlines of March, 31st:
  • The 100 Unsexiest Men 2008 (with a picture of toothy TC)
  • Fashion + Beauty: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy we think you are awesome
  • Food: Is all dark chocolate good for you?
  • At home: Article about spring cleaning
  • Love + Sex: Wedding season approaching
  • Healthy living: Eat bread and still save on calories?

Yahoo claims that advertisers in consumer-packaged goods, retail and pharmaceuticals have requested more ways to reach those consumers -hence Shine.
To put insult to injury, the fixed items on the right top corner are Mail, Weather and (gasp!) Horoscope.
I would have expected to have News, Finance, Tech, Small Business and Travel there – aren’t they suppose to address business women as well?
In short, this marketing product is just one more in the long list of women’s mags.
The layout confirms this – the site is more magazine-like than an information portal.

Reasons why this site will not work (in my opinion):

  1. The target audience is too diverse.
    Young mothers have other requirements than senior executives.

  2. The site is in English only, solely targeting at the US.
    It leaves powerful demographic groups such as Spanish-speakers out in the cold. To illustrate my point, blogger Hieu T writes in her blog entry titled Khai truong the following: “Chả hiểu cái này dùng thế nào nhỉ???”

  3. The main drive behind this site is Yahoo’s expectation that it will attract advertisers in the consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals and retail categories, where combined online advertising spending is expected to exceed $1.8 billion in 2008.
    It is a low-cost way for Yahoo to create more cross-promotional opportunities.

  4. The site doesn’t have a specific appeal or taps into a specific need.
    To stand out, Yahoo should have created an “empowerment” theme.
    The line between Shine and sites such as CafeMom, Glam, ivillage, the knot and Martha Stewart living is too blurred.

  5. Positioning.
    You cannot access Shine by simply typing in
    You will get a completely different (although nicely designed) site aimed at job seekers. Yahoo’s Shine is a sub domain and has to be accessed with
    If you try to access the site via the main Yahoo page, you have to scroll down the list of quick links on the left – for some reason, it’s not placed in the alphabetical list, but as a separate category at the bottom. It was not visible on my computer screen until I scrolled down…

  6. The format.
    Shine is a large blog with magazine style layout. Content is broken up into various subcategories with the front page highlighting the newest content from across the site.
    Content is supplied by a pool of selected contributors (hailing from the world of women's publishing) and the site's visitors.
    Due to freeform blog format, visiting bloggers use it for personal advertisement, while the contributors use it for covert advertising and product placement
    (Example: Jennifer Romolini promoting Fig leaves).
    Articles and original blogs will come from a range of sources, including Glamour,,, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Women's Health, and Good Housekeeping.

  7. Yahoo tried content before – and failed.
    Yahoo has only been successful in content for sports. However, that was not due to the content itself, but by offering free fantasy sports as a piece of functionality as Jon Gibs, an analyst with Nielsen Online, pointed out.
    Main competitor Google stays away from producing orginal content.

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