Facebook, Email and Apps Will Be Key to Yahoo's Turnaround

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says whittling down Yahoo's apps, amplifying its Facebook-like assets and improving email are areas for opportunity.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, at a Feb. 12 Goldman Sachs conference in San Francisco, sat for a second interview during which she discussed how she plans to revive Yahoo. Keys to her strategy, she said, will be to focus on fewer but more key mobile apps, an email solution that outdoes the competition's, and increasing the Facebook-like perks Yahoo has to offer.

"A lot of the strengths of Facebook are available to Yahoo users. That's something we want to build upon," said Mayer. "We have a real commitment to bringing valuable content to our users."

She noted, as she did during a January interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, her first as CEO, that Yahoo has a "nice partnership" with Facebook, but said that Yahoo will need to enhance its own social features.

"One of the things that people really want to do is share their interests with their friends. We need to have sharing built in as a fundamental component," said Mayer, according to a Feb. 13 report from Bloomberg.

Mayer also repeated an anecdote she told at Davos about listing features to friends and family—like email, stocks, weather, sports scores, photos and group communication—and asking what she was doing, to which they would answer that she was listing everything that Yahoo does. Her kicker: She was instead listing the top things that people do on their mobile devices.

Mayer's hope is to use all the commonalities between what people look for on mobile and what Yahoo has to offer to help turn around the company's revenue-generating display advertising businesses. According to Bloomberg, Yahoo's share of that market is expected to fall from 2012's 9.3 percent to 8 percent this year, while Google boosts its share from 18 percent to 15 percent and Facebook grows from 14 percent to 15 percent.

Mayer said Yahoo currently has more than 200 million active monthly mobile users and between 60 and 75 mobile applications—a number she wants to trim down to nearer to a dozen.

"I don't assume users will have all 12 to 15, hopefully 2 to 4 per user that matter most to them," Mayer said, according to a transcript from Business Insider. "I do think we want to have enough applications for that single-purpose need. [There's a balance to achieve] with not overloading people with too many individual apps."

On the topic of email, she said that advertising on Yahoo Mail works and is a driver of traffic, but that more can be done with Mail.

"I don't know how many people think email works perfectly. There is a lot that can be improved ... How many people at least once a day mark an email as unread on their phone, so they can go back later and read it on their PC?" Mayer said. "There's an opportunity for innovation. ... These are the types of things we're thinking about."