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Marissa Mayer's Awesome Content Strategy Fuels Yahoo! Optimism

Stocks in this article: YHOO GOOG

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --

My new boss, Robertson Barrett, told me: "We want to be your playground." That phrase is catnip to a creative type like me!

That's an excerpt from a Forbes interview with former New York Times tech columnist, David Pogue.

Pogue now works for Yahoo! (YHOO) and, I can only assume, his "new boss," somewhere along the food chain, reports directly to Marissa Mayer. While the Pogue hiring, in and of itself, will not take Yahoo! exactly where it needs to go from advertising and profit standpoints, it illustrates what I think -- and hope -- is a wider content strategy at the company.

Yahoo!'s big problem, at least relative to Google (GOOG), is that the massive amount of traffic its properties receive does not necessarily translate to commensurate amounts of time spent on the site, passion or some other flavor of loyalty. You go to Yahoo! to check the headlines and methodically consume the weather forecast. But, with a few exceptions, you don't go there with the sort of vim and vigor that can excite advertisers.

If I am out on the streets selling Yahoo! content, I hope I am able to sell Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Sports, particularly if I am making local- or regional-level sales (as Yahoo! should be). These properties ought to serve as the model for much of what Yahoo! does on the content leads to traffic leads to myriad types of advertising dollars trajectory.

I go to Yahoo! Finance multiple times a day to fetch a stock quote or scan the latest headlines, but, more often than not I stick around for longer than I intended to. Same thing happens when I hit up Yahoo! Sports' NHL page to find out what time the puck drops or some other mundane detail. Something or somebody else hooks me and I view more pages -- either within Yahoo! or at one of its partners (which includes TheStreet) -- than I planned on.

Yahoo! draws me in for, say, a YHOO quote, but I stay longer because I see interesting stories under the current headlines. I click out to a partner (which is what you might have done to view this article) or a Yahoo!-branded site. Better yet, there's a tease on the page that catches my eye . . . something informative, provocative or otherwise entertaining from strong Yahoo! Finance personalities such as Jeff Macke or Henry Blodget. I consume more content. The cycle repeats itself on the particular visit and, because of the allure of good content, repeats itself on an increasing number of subsequent visits.

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