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Yahoo memo reveals marketing shakeup

Yahoo making big and much needed changes in its global marketing--which could also herald the departure of Chief Marketing Officer Elisa Steele.

Elisa Steele, Yahoo's chief marketing officer, previously worked at NetApp, where she ran the global brand strategy and execution programs. Prior to joining NetApp, she led Sun's Integrated Marketing and Merchandising organization.

Yahoo continues to work on damage control following the sudden ousting of former CEO Carol Bartz.

A new leaked internal memo reveals that the search-site-turned-"premier"-digital-media-company is planning to completely rework its global marketing strategies.

The note, penned by Yahoo's chief marketing officer, Elisa Steele, doesn't reveal many specifics on the product side or what Yahoo plans to promote there.

The major takeaway point is that Yahoo is planning to split its global marketing unit in two to cover more ground. The letter also highlights that CFO and interim CEO Tim Morse is in favor of this major shift.

It's possible the marketing plan will now focus more on promoting Yahoo's original streaming content and media partnerships, such as deals with ABC News.

Though Yahoo continues to boast about strong numbers for its digital media efforts, it's still questionable how aware Web users worldwide are about Yahoo's products in this arena--especially as other parts of the company are stumbling (perhaps with the exception of Yahoo Mail).

Related stories
• Yahoo raises outlook, delivers bit of good news
• Microsoft mulling another bid for Yahoo?
• Yahoo, Bartz part ways (roundup)

Yahoo's share in the search market continues to waver from month to month, and quarterly earnings have been rocky. Nevertheless, Yahoo still churned out positive earnings earlier this week for the third quarter of 2011.

Another reportedly internal memo leaked out a few weeks ago, revealing that Yahoo was potentially looking for buyers. That added fuel to the rumors that Microsoft was once again interested in making a bid for the beleaguered search engine.

Anyway, here's the Elisa Steele memo in full:


It is critical for Yahoo to grow faster and become more agile. We need to make decisions to accelerate the Regions' growth plans around the world, and Marketing plays a crucial role in helping develop, support, and execute these plans. We've built an integrated marketing machine that is an asset to help the company grow now and into the future. When we assembled a global and centralized organization in 2009, we took the opportunity to create best practices, establish consistency, deepen domain expertise, enhance functional capabilities, and innovate for one of the biggest brands in the world. And, in the past 12 months, Global Marketing took home dozens of industry awards for marketing leadership in integrated consumer marketing, digital marketing, and event marketing--including the acclaimed Cannes Lions, a Clio, a Webby, and IAB Awards. Our Marketing achievements have been broad, deep, and well recognized.

Now that we have this strong capability, it is time to leverage it even further. I believe we now need to bring marketing decisions, marketing talent, and marketing budgets closer to the customer--and into the regions that depend on these critical plans. We need to further link our marketing strategies to revenue growth, sales objectives, and overall accountability. Therefore, I want to put the marketing programs and tools we've developed right with the Sales and Audience teams responsible for the business outcomes.

It is with this in mind that I recommended a marketing reorganization plan to align to these objectives, accelerate decision-making, and simplify roles. The plan centers on decentralizing the current global team into two types of specific teams:

1. Regional Marketing: Our regional marketing teams will move to report directly to the Regional leaders in Americas, EMEA and APAC.
2. Corporate Marketing: Our strategic brand, communications, and marketing services teams will remain centralized and report into HQ.

This was my proposal to Tim for the best interests of Yahoo today, and I am glad he agreed with my thinking. I really hope you will endorse and support these changes, too. Yahoo needs your help and expertise to insure this important next phase is successful.

I want you to know how proud I am of your achievements and contributions. I also want to thank you for the incredible support you have shown me over the past 2.5 years in the current organization. It's been an amazing brand adventure and working with each of you has been a great source of satisfaction.

My current role as CMO on CEO staff is unchanged. However, whatever I decide to do next for my career is my choice--and I'll think about that on my own timeline. First, I will work with Tim, my peers, and all of you to ensure a smooth transition--and that is my focus for now.

We have a meeting scheduled with the marketing leadership team on Monday, and I can address any questions you may have about this transition.


Elisa Steele, evp & cmo

This story was originally posted at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Internal memo: Yahoo revamping global marketing strategy."