A little follow-up post for you readers because I'm still fired up about some of the articles I read on Wenda Harris Millard leaving Yahoo. Before my little rant, let me give you a quick background. I've probably spent over $50 million (could be $100 million, but I can't remember back to my AT&T days) in online advertising with Yahoo since 1998 and thats for all kinds of clients and employers, so unlike a lot of articles and posts you are reading, I actually have a ton of experience with them. What confuses me the most about this "divorce" is that Yahoo is using it to repackage their sales force to combine their search and display ads when I've seen no evidence that the sales process was separate under Wenda.
In fact, based on my experience, the display sales teams bent over backwards to sell Yahoo Search while the search guys couldn't spell banner if you spotted them the n's and the b. Seriously and whenever I had deals with both businesses it was the search team that actually isolated themselves. The last few years I've seen the display teams cross sell search and of course bring other properties to the mix. Every sales executive sold both and that goes for financial services as well as politics.
Witness a nice meeting we had today with Google. The Google Sales team talked search as well as display ads and spent the bulk of our meeting on video and banners ads (we obviously didn't need a tutorial on search). It was seamless and they didn't skip a beat when it came to display ads. However, the Google team was selling from a strength (search) into another product their display ads capabilities. Yahoo should also follow that model, but their strength is not search but their web properties powered by display ads. Sure they have the Harrisdirect search study that shows when you run both at the same time your results increase, but to think you lead from something that you clearly are in the second place seems silly, no?
Anyway, I think Wenda deserves better than what she's getting on the way out the door. She wasn't the reason their sales forces were not integrated and she certainly isn't the reason marketers don't spend more on Yahoo Search. Search for smart marketers is your first stop for ROI and if you've seen what I've experience of later for ALL CLIENTS is that Yahoo Search just doesn't convert like it did in the past and wagging the display dog with the search tail seems very risky.