Yahoo’s donation to the ad industry

Yahoo is running some expensive, out-of-home advertising in Boston right now, and I have no idea what they are trying to accomplish. At this point, I think this has to be part of a contractually obligated ad spend with a partner, and Yahoo just decided, “F*** it. Just take our money.”

Here are a few examples of the ads.

Yahoo billboard in Boston

Yahoo billboard in Boston

Yahoo poster in Boston

Yahoo poster in Boston

Who are they aimed at? Since there is no copy whatsoever to explain what Yahoo does, I’m assuming they are aimed at people that already know the company and are familiar with it. That makes sense. I bet that Yahoo has pretty good brand awareness, especially among the people that are likely to use it. Or maybe Yahoo is being clever here and intentionally using a vague ad to get people to Google what Yahoo is, so that they’ll then start Yahooing future vague ads. If so, then that’s one hell of a Jedi mind trick they are trying to pull off.

So what are they trying to accomplish? The app store images are another hint. They must be trying to get people that are already aware of Yahoo to download the Yahoo app. But why would they download the app? There’s no messaging, so it doesn’t seem like they are trying to convince someone to start using Yahoo. Otherwise, you’d think they would mention at least 1 reason for you to give Yahoo a try (assuming Yahoo thinks there is at least 1 reason you should try Yahoo, outside of it meaning the world to them). 

That leaves us with Yahoo trying to get existing Yahoo users to download the mobile app. But aren’t there more effective ways to let those people know about the app through the web experience or email? Ways that would save them thousands of advertising dollars and perhaps the few minutes of design work that went into these ads? Or, was this just the most effective way that Yahoo could make a donation to the ad industry?