Today in Social

Yahoo announced it would cut 2.000 employees to save $375 million a year and gain nimbleness and focus. And what will the big portal focus on? According to this memo to employees from CEO Scott Thompson, Yahoo will try to make its media and communications products the best in the business, beef up its “platform” (by which it seems to mean infrastructure to run those things, rather than a tech platform for third-party developers), and better use its consumer data for personalization and ad targeting. I’m missing the “focus” part. AllThingsD points out that Yahoo doesn’t say what it’s doing about possibly selling its ad technology and ad networks, whether it will change partners or unload search, or what head of product Blake Irving will work on, if anything. When Thompson joined Yahoo in January we advised him to give up being a tech platform, a social media company or an ad network, fix Yahoo’s ad targeting – which might require access to search data, if not actually selling search ads – focus on brand advertising and buy some quality content sites. This is Yahoo’s sixth large layoff in four years, and I’m not going to try to count the re-orgs and strategic shifts. The brand isn’t completely broken in consumers’ minds, and Yahoo still has a big audience. How much longer will they hang around?

Today in Social

Kantar Media, a unit of the big advertising holding company WPP, estimates that Google spent over $200 million in U.S. advertising last year, $70 million of it on TV. Kantar says that’s up almost four times versus the prior year, and when measured as a percentage of revenue is approaching the ratio of companies like Microsoft and Apple. That’s a new thing for Google, a company whose online reach – via search, email, and YouTube – is pretty much ubiquitous in the U.S. Does Google feel it needs to explain itself to consumers? You bet. It can put a Play button on its black toolbar and it will be in most consumers’ face, but what’s behind that button? A re-named Android Marketplace as a launchpad for a lot of Google entertainment content. Google’s integrating, but it’s also looking like the distributed version of a portal. Will its coming cloud drive be a consumer play, or a Google Docs extension? Both. And that will require advertising to explain.

New Facebook ad offerings fill some holes

Facebook needed to change the way it sold advertising inventory and add some glitzier formats. Last week, at its fMC event for marketers, it made some progress towards addressing those needs. Let’s see what Facebook is doing right and where it still has holes.

Today in Social

Lots of instant analysis about the implications of the wave of apps adopting the new features of Facebook’s platform that debuted last September at f8. AllThingsD looks at some innovative uses of the new technologies, and VentureBeat examines actions outside of Likes. Greg Sterling thinks Facebook could create an app store to rival Apple’s as it moves into more categories than social games. Sarah Lacey sees Facebook’s semi-permeable walled garden as a model halfway between Yahoo’s portal that is geared to hold onto users and Google’s search engine that makes money by taking users away from its site. She correctly notes that Facebook’s distributed Connect technologies can follow along with users as they venture across the web, extending its “wall” around everything.

Priorities for Yahoo’s new CEO

Last week Yahoo announced it had hired Scott Thompson, currently the president of eBay’s PayPal business, as its new CEO. Thompson has product and technology cred, which means Yahoo should be fixable. With that in mind, here’s what he should do to get Yahoo growing again in order to retain its position as one of the biggest players in online advertising.

Today in Social

Yahoo announced that PayPal president Scott Thompson will be its new CEO, starting next week. Wall Street still thinks Yahoo needs to define itself, and Om notes that Thompson’s still stuck with Yahoo’s dysfunctional board. About the only thing anyone said at the press conference was that Yahoo would remain a public company. Last summer, I sketched out a few options for Yahoo to try to regain growth, and we tapped the GigaOM readership for a Flash Analysis on its overall company future. Yahoo is a media company, as defined by its main source of revenue – advertising. It has some strong assets (customer base, leading content properties, email) but its formerly successful portal business model, that combined consumer communications, content and navigation faces severe pressure from search and social media. PayPal has been eBay’s growth engine recently, and Thompson brings expertise in product management, mobile and payments to Yahoo. But he’ll have to rely on lieutenants for content and advertising expertise.