Yahoo looks to a future of video, sport and finance after Seven

It’s been almost two months since the official dissolution of the Yahoo7 joint venture, but the plans were already in place for Yahoo next steps under the umbrella of Verizon. Mumbrella's Hannah Blackiston spoke with Verizon director of content Simon Wheeler to find out what those plans were and what the key focuses are for the next phase of Yahoo.

It’s hard to visit the Yahoo Australian HQ without thinking about the history of the company. The team are still located in Sydney’s Eveleigh, in the same building as Seven West Media, and the signage outside the lifts and on the reception desk still reads Oath, despite that branding now being redundant.

But now it’s business as usual at Verizon Media, with the wrap up of the Yahoo Seven join venture now almost two months behind them. That means the ANZ team and the US-based Verizon are keen to get back on track with building the Australian brands which include Yahoo’s editorial verticals (news, lifestyle, finance, sport) and HuffPost Australia.

Simon Wheeler, Verizon director of content


Prior to our chat, and after I’d made it past the Oath signage, Simon Wheeler, Verizon’s director of content, gave me a quick tour around the Yahoo offices. Firstly they’re much bigger than I expected, a common misconception says Wheeler. The expansive floor, which was once Pacific’s custom publishing arm, contains not just a number more desks than I was prepared for, but its own TV studio.

“[Video] is pretty central to where we want to go from a content point of view. We realised very quickly we needed to pivot away from videos of factory fires and stuff like that and create content we know our audience really wants,” said Wheeler.

Yahoo as a brand has a history of creating long form video content. In the US, the Yahoo Finance programming is incredibly popular, and it’s something Wheeler and his team would like to replicate over here.

The New Investors is one way Yahoo is doing this. In episodes posted on Yahoo Finance, entrepreneurs and business owners are interviewed inside the Yahoo studio in front of a live audience. These interviews are often over 30 minutes long.

“It ties back to Yahoo Finance and making finance easy for consumers to access, but also its part of the strategy for longer form, premium video which definitely offers a commercial opportunity and sponsorship angles. We can take them to clients, they’re really brand safe, there’s a highly engaged audience and it’s something brands would want to put their name against,” said Wheeler.

Yahoo is also working on lifestyle content, including flagship program Build. It’s another concept the Australian arm are borrowing from the US but Wheeler said the format would be adapted for the Australian market.

“Hugely successful in the US, but again, we’re doing it a little bit differently here and with local talent. But it gives us access to some really great international talent, having that video offering and again it’s about content that can sit inside articles, but also creating a destination where people can just come and watch longer form video as well.”

Eventually the plan is to launch a video or ‘Yahoo TV’ platform where all the content will sit, but for now the team is focused on building a following so that when that platform launches people will head to it to consume the shows they’re already interested in.


It’s very apparent the amount of investment that has gone into Verizon’s Australian presence. With Yahoo, AOL and HuffPost Australia, there’s a massive amount of branding and content to be had, but in a similar story to the one currently being told by Seven, the best wasn’t being made of the output during the joint venture.

Oath was created as a global brand after Verizon’s acquisition of AOL and Yahoo in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The Oath brand officially launched in Australia in 2018, despite launching in the US in 2017, which meant that by the time Verizon had decided to rebrand as Verizon Media, Oath was only a few months old in this market. The back and forth on branding hasn’t helped the business grow neatly, but Wheeler is confident now that all ducks are in a row, the team can focus on what’s important – audiences.

HuffPost in particular struggled in the Yahoo7 days. Launching in partnership with Fairfax, HuffPost came to Australia in a big way, with a massive team and a focus on local content. But quickly the wheels came off and the title is now supported by two local reporters who mostly reproduce American content. But, Wheeler said, that’s all about to change.

“I think the brand still has a lot to offer, there’s still a lot of interest. We get lots of questions from potential clients about what we’re doing. While it won’t be a repeat of the Fairfax JV, with a sizeable newsroom, there’s definitely the scope to do something meaningful with HuffPost,” said Wheeler.

“We need local focus if we’re going to do anything, but the interest is there. We just need to do the work. There’s the assumption that the audience is left of centre, but we don’t know exactly the demographics, so we’re going to put in the world there to really identify the audiences. But it isn’t an insurmountable challenge.

“During the Seven JV there was a lot of pull for focus, kind of all over the place, but now we can run our own race and there’s a real opportunity with HuffPost.”

A quick scout around the job boards will confirm there are currently numerous roles going at HuffPost Australia, and Wheeler confirmed the Verizon team are working hard to identify the audience and what sort of content would be needed to make HuffPost shine.


Alongside video and HuffPost, Yahoo is also focusing on sport and finance. The dissolution of the Your Money News Corp/Nine joint venture proves that while it may not be the easiest area to get right, there is an appetite out there for finance coverage. Whether the backing of the strong Yahoo Finance branding and the situating of a team inside a wider, and more commercially viable, business will help Yahoo nail down the perfect finance reporting platform is yet to be confirmed, but Wheeler is confident that all the ingredients are there.

“The reason we chose finance was, and it’s one of the benefits of being part of a massive media machine like Verizon, that Yahoo Finance has already established itself as a really credible finance brand media brand in a couple of major markets,” said Wheeler.

“We didn’t have that focus on it because we were the joint venture, but we quickly realised it was a bit of a sleeping giant. There’s already that brand equity if you like. It resonates well with audiences and we’re taking a slightly different approach to the US, a very marketable approach. It’s DIY, consumer focused, making it more accessible and understandable. It’s a gender-neutral audience, they’re coming to us during key life stages, buying their first home or looking into superannuation. We’re bringing to the table a consumer-focused personal finance brand.”

The other focus for Yahoo is sport, with basketballer Andrew Bogut recently signing on as a contributor for Yahoo Sport and a new partnership with PlayersVoice bringing first-person stories from athletes to Yahoo’s sports offering.

The future

Yahoo’s position in the wider publisher landscape is an interesting one. What was known up until now as Yahoo7 regularly sits in the top ten of the Nielsen digital content ratings (DCR). Wheeler is pragmatic about Yahoo’s performance post JV, saying the focus isn’t to topple the regular DCR winners, namely news.com.au, nine.com.au and ABC, but to keep hold of the niche Yahoo have created for themselves.

“We’ve regularly been in the top ten favourite websites for some time, even post joint venture that’s holding steady which I’m pleased about. It’s a busy and cluttered market and I think it’s really important for us to focus on our strengths. So for us in the next 12 months that’s finance and the video studio, trying to differentiate ourselves in terms of what we offer.

“There’s a sizeable gap between us and the top players, so I’m not going to sit here and say we’ll close that gap and be number one or number two. But we’re going to try and solidify our position, grow and improve our brands and increase our overall audience.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.