Serwer: Yahoo Finance will break news and be must-read
Yahoo Finance is the No. 1 business and financial news site in the country, with nearly 55 million unique visitors in March. No. 2 site Business Insider was more than 12 million unique visitors behind for the month.
Aiming to keep Yahoo Finance at the top of the list is Andy Serwer, who in February was named editor in chief. Serwer is the former editor of Fortune magazine who had spent his entire business journalism career at the Time Inc. publication.
“Busy doesn’t begin to describe” the past two months, said Serwer on Tuesday.
Serwer spoke by telephone Tuesday with Talking Biz News about his impressions of Yahoo Finance after two months on the job and his plans for the future. What follows is an edited transcript.
What attracted you to become editor of Yahoo Finance?
It suited what I was looking to do, getting into a digitally native news organization. It was also appealing because it is one with tremendous scale. And the opportunity as it was presented to me was interesting. Yahoo Finance has been to a large degree been a free Bloomberg terminal. People went there to look up stocks and read aggregated news stories and do a chart. And that would be it.
My job is to bring in journalists to produce distinguished journalism and start creating original content here with the existing team as well. I want to make Yahoo Finance part of the public conversation, making news, breaking news, doing some live events, making Yahoo Finance more public. Everyone knows it, but people don’t recognize it for what it could be.
What has been your general impression of the content in your first few months on the job?
There are some people doing some pretty good content. We do a fair amount of video, which is great. World-class production studios. Our partner content — we have in excess of 5,000 stories a day — is amazing too. We are starting to break a few stories. We’re looking to do more of that.
Or make it complementary. The data part of Yahoo Finance is going to be a strong suit for many decades to come.
It’s pretty simple. People use the ticker pages. When you go to Yahoo Finance, you might be looking up IBM, and you will see the aggregated stories, and you will see our story. I hope you will click on our story because it’s the best, and our engagement time will go way up.
We’re going to be using social media more, ramping that up. That’s an important new way of distribution.
What areas of coverage are you working to improve?
We’re going to cover what people want to read about and watch, which is technology. It’s Wall Street, it’s media, and it’s politics and business. There’s oil and gas, which is very important right now. The energy story and how that relates to cars. We’ll be covering the most-read topics, which is very competitive. On the other hand, that’s what people want.
How big is the staff, and how does it determine what to cover each day?
It’s about a dozen people, which does not include video. There’s about another dozen in video. We all sit right next to each other and collaborating every day. We also have social media people.
Are you hiring? What are you looking for?
I’d like to increase that number by 50 percent in the next year or so, or 18 months, for starters. The people who come here have to do things that are differentiated and strong. We can’t do things that everyone else is doing; we already have that because of the partner content.
Who do you see as the biggest competitors for Yahoo Finance editorially?
I think Bloomberg is a big competitor. We do have a strong stock market, markets trader orientation. They do as well, and they’re trying to broaden out their core audience, and we are as well. They charge thousands of dollars for their product, but ours is free.
We partner with and compete with NBC. And then Dow Jones.
What’s the ultimate goal for the editorial side of Yahoo Finance?
The measure of success will be to have people recognize that Yahoo Finance is the place to go for original stories, original content, differentiated content. To have people say, “according to Yahoo Finance.” Traffic is extremely important to us, but my job is more engagement than simply boosting traffic. There are other sites that are boosting traffic by posting junk. My mandate is not to do that.
Are there types of business and personal finance coverage that you’re not going to cover?
I think that looking to extend business by doing a photo gallery of Russian women tennis stars and their earnings and using that as a conceit that it’s a business story is not something that we need to do. That’s a slippery slope because then you have to find racier pictures the next month to top that, and it’s not a core business audience. I’m not judging; that’s just not our mandate.
How big is video for Yahoo Finance?
It’s growing by big-time double digits. We have two linear shows a day now, one in the morning and one in midday. We’re looking to add a weekly talk show. We’re shooting video all the time. A huge percentage of our original stories have video components. We don’t like to do text stories without videos, and we don’t like to do videos without text. People like that. And advertising works well with it. And it’s fun for everyone too. You can be very creative.
What do you like most about the job?
I like the energy, and I like the learning. I’m learning a lot of stuff. It’s just so great. We’re using all of these new tools, and we have great people. Learning and creating at the same time is an unbeatable combination.