Latest Yahoo Downsizing Victim: Splashy Annual Advertiser Showcase

Following layoffs and investor attacks, Yahoo opts for private “NewFronts” meeting at its New York office

Yahoo plans to turn down the wattage on its yearly “NewFront” advertiser showcase in May, opting for a more subdued private meeting at its New York office rather than its glitzy productions of recent years

The austerity comes as Yahoo, struggling to reinvent itself, has cut 15 percent of its workforce and shuts down some operations, including a trend away from scripted long-form video series that tended to hold heightened appeal for the ad-buying attendees of the NewFronts, where digital-media companies fete advertisers and media buyers with the hope of scoring ad deals.

Yahoo’s chief revenue officer Lisa Utzschneider said the company’s NewFront event would be a private, “smaller and more intimate” meeting at its New York office for brand and agency partners, according to a blog post Monday. In the past, Yahoo has put on elaborate, star-studded shows at tony New York locations like Lincoln Center.

“We believe it’s important to provide our advertisers with less flash and more substance this year,” Utzschneider said. “With high quality content from our talented team of editors and key updates on our ad offerings, we will ensure that advertisers walk away knowing exactly what they can buy with Yahoo and how to buy it.”

Since CEO Marissa Mayer took the company’s helm in 2012, Yahoo has been scrutinized to reinvent itself  for the mobile age and regain its lost stature as a one-time Internet giant.

But Mayer’s strategies, which included pricey acquisitions of startups, myriad mobile apps and amped-up news content investment with big-name talent like the New York Times’ David Pogue and Katie Couric, have failed to produce meaningful revenue growth.

Most recently, the company came under attack from activist investor Starboard Value, which last week launched a campaign to oust the board. Yahoo is also in the midst of laying off workers, paring its operations and exploring the possibility of selling its core business outright.  

Yahoo was one of the original companies involved with the NewFronts. The organization that manages the series, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, put a positive spin on Yahoo’s move.

“As a founding partner of the Digital Content NewFronts, Yahoo has been central to the growth of this important marketplace for brands, agencies, and publishers. We’re excited to see Yahoo pioneering new, intimate ways to showcase the value of original digital video content to advertisers,” IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said in a statement.