Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer at Yahoo, found the reaction to Brad Garlinghouse's "Peanut Butter manifesto" annoying.
Speaking at a UBS media and telecommunications conference in New York Millard said:
"The reality is you could take Yahoo's name off that memo and put on the name of any company you've worked for on it."
Millard then noted that Yahoo has grown at an exponential rate and has fared well. She added that the reaction to the Garlinghouse memo was "pretty silly in terms of the noise related to it. I found it annoying."
At the conference, Millard covered a lot of ground.
--Millard said the company's behavioral targeting efforts should in theory enable the search giant to charge more for ads. But "the reality is behavioral targeting is not something agencies understand." Behavioral targeting refers to the ability to aggregate an audience based on surfing habits such as time of day visited, sections viewed and length of visit. In other words, every time you visit a Web site you leave a "click print." A working paper by Wharton professor Balaji Padmanabhan and Catherine Yang, a professor at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis found that an e-commerce company can distinguish between two individuals with nearly 100% accuracy, sometimes with as few as three Internet sessions.
Increasingly, Yahoo's behavioral targeting will become a part of overall marketing budgets. Millard says success is gauged via response to direct marketing campaigns and other quantifiable responses. As behavioral targeting works and Yahoo can prove it, Millard says she expects "it to be more desirable and theoretically allow us to charge more."
--The delayed Panama project will improve paid search, but also evolve to include Yahoo's display advertising systems. "Panama will accommodate pricing issues across platforms," says Millard. She notes that Yahoo has focused on Panama's impact on paid search publicly because that's Wall Street's focus.
--Millard emphasized the importance of dealing with ad agencies and consulting with them. As a result of Yahoo's approach it's viewed as a partner and not a threat. Noting advertising is part art and part science, Millard said she didn't see the advertising game "turning into one giant algorithm."
--On turnover, Millard said the idea that Yahoo was losing key people is "hilarious." She said she hasn't lost any employees to Google because no media person would want to go a place where the focus is science and technology.