Shortly after I began my stint at Yahoo, my friend Nishad from Contract Advertising asked me how it was to be working at a publisher.
I couldn’t give him an appropriate answer – it was too soon, honestly. So, a short while later, he asked again. And so did almost everybody else I’d worked with in my previous life.
Now, four months into my journey at Yahoo, it’s time to answer his question. Here, in no particular order, are my ten key discoveries after diving into this strange new world.
The first thing to realise at Yahoo is that, as a creative person, you don’t take centre-stage. Agencies live and die by their creative product, and thus treat their creative teams like demigods. The team I lead exists purely to help sell our media properties, which is the core of any publisher’s business. We do so by adding value to brands through cutting-edge digital solutions. It was a tricky adjustment for me to make – but once you realise your place in the system, once you let go of the attitude, you can figure out how to do the work you want.
The second thing that hits you about working at Yahoo is how knowledge-driven the place is. We know stuff about the web, about our users, about tools, about activities that would stun you! Hard numbers! Not surprising, really, considering Yahoo is one of the places that has literally powered the evolution of the Internet, and is continuing to do so. Even better – what we don’t know, we find out. If agencies had the wealth of digital knowledge that we at Yahoo do, they’d be churning out some seriously brilliant stuff. I guess that’s why clients see us as the digital experts.
At number three is my one bugbear. At Linteractive, I had pretty much the freedom to develop a solution wholly based on Facebook, or a micro-site, or QR codes, or whatever. At Yahoo, I’m tasked to develop a solution based primarily on Yahoo. Thankfully, it isn’t as restrictive as it sounds. Yahoo has deeply integrated with Facebook (you can access your Facebook account from your Yahoo home page) and we openly use social media connections on our properties. We also do mobile, apps, on-ground, the works – but all of them rest on Yahoo and its properties.
Number four is something I’m really proud of. We at Yahoo are proud of who we are, what we do and what we know. Yet, we don’t have the ego traditional creative agencies do. An example: we were recently stuck on a particular brief. Like, really, really stuck! And the pitch was the next day. We needed help – and asked for it. The team spent six hours with the media agency handling the account, running them through our pitch presentation, taking aboard their perspective. The next morning, we rewrote the entire presentation…and won the account later that afternoon. Can you imagine an agency creative team doing that?
Number five is a spin-off from number four, and is more personal than general. In my short stint here, I’ve met and collaborated with a number of people from different walks of life. These include media agencies, cutting-edge digital and social media agencies, copy editors, game designers, techies and many more. My world isn’t as insulated as it used to be.
Number six – Yahoo is a global company…and acts like it! We interact with our global counterparts on an almost daily basis. Insights are shared. Ideas are critiqued. Help is offered. There are no barriers to collaboration.
Number seven is every geek’s dream. We’re a digital company. So everything here is digital. Every system, every report, every form, every tool – it’s all on our company Intranet. We don’t circulate Excel sheets with everyone’s extensions on them – we just look ’em up! We use VoIP phones, Adobe Remote Connect and British Telecom Bridges to get together remotely (anyone decipher what I’m saying?), all without first calling for IT assistance. And if our Internet connections were F1 cars, they’d leave Sebastian Vettel eating their dust. I’m in heaven.
Eighth on the list is how accountable we hold ourselves. We’re always tracking, measuring and optimising our campaigns. When banner clicks drop, we develop more creative renditions overnight. When pageviews slide, we make an aggressive editorial, social and promotional push. This partly comes from the nature of digital as a measurable and quickly modifiable medium – but mostly it comes from a hungry, positive attitude.
Ninth is a lesson I should imbibe if I ever start up my own agency. The first position I’ll fill is that of New Business Director – and I’ll hire a salesperson from Yahoo to fill it.
Finally, number ten. I now work in a company that believes that life isn’t all about work. A company for whom the phrase ‘work-life balance’ isn’t just something out of an HR manual. On normal days we come in at 9 and leave at 6. By 7, the office is deserted. By 8, the lights are off. On days that we have personal errands to run, we log in remotely and work from home. I still don’t get it sometimes…but who’s complaining!
It’s a whole new world, Publisherland. I don’t know yet if this is the last job I’ll ever want and I don’t know how long it’ll remain new and fun and exciting. But for now, my amazing journey through the rabbit-hole continues.