Yahoo Q1 Revenues Down, Bartz Says “Search Critical To Yahoo’s Business”

As expected, Yahoo earnings were down, about 13 percent YoY. According to the earnings press release:

Yahoo! Inc. today reported revenues of $1,580 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2009, a decrease of 13 percent from the first quarter of 2008.  Excluding the impact of currency rate fluctuations, revenues for the first quarter of 2009 would have declined 8 percent from the first quarter of 2008.  The Company’s non-GAAP operating cash flow for the first quarter of 2009 of $409 million exceeded the midpoint of the outlook range provided by the Company last quarter.

Query volume was up and search share was “stable” but revenue per search was down, based on macro-economic conditions according to Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz

Bartz said that the company was restructuring, as previously rumored, to simplify and streamline operations, dividing the company into a North American operation led by Hilary Schneider and an international division to be led by a hire yet to be named. She confirmed the rumored 5 percent reduction in force but said these layoffs were not about “across the board cost cutting” but rather about streamlining the operation, eliminating redundancy and focusing on key strategic areas.

Among those products and services Bartz mentioned as strategic were the Yahoo homepage, news, finance, mail, sports and mobile. Bartz used some of her trademark “colorful” language in reference to how Yahoo would invest in key product areas to create “kick ass experiences for our users.”  She added that the company would “manically focus on our most important products.”

When asked during the Q&A session about a potential search deal with Microsoft she said that “search is critical” to Yahoo’s business and so was the capability to combine search and display advertising. She declined to comment on talks with Microsoft about a potential advertising deal.

Bartz touted the positive advertiser reaction to the search retargeting program (“freakin’ awesome”), which offers “search insights” to display advertising (behavioral targeting). She also spoke about how Yahoo was bringing “the best of display advertising to search . . . rich media rather than just blue links.”

A great many of the questions from the Wall Street Analysts  on the call focused on the future of online brand and premium display advertising. Rhetorically Bartz asked, “Does the trend toward performance marketing signal a secular shift away from premium brand advertising online?” She then added: “My answer is an emphatic no.” And Bartz predicted a return to higher brand-display advertising when the economy “returns to normal.”

Here are some of the numbers from the earnings call slides:

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Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Top News | Yahoo: Business Issues | Yahoo: Display Ads | Yahoo: General | Yahoo: Outside US | Yahoo: Search Ads

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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