Couric, Legend, SNL Star At Mayer’s CES Keynote

Las Vegas – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was joined Katie Couric, John Legend, David Pogue and Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson who helped illustrate some of the changes being made by the Internet stalwart.
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Las Vegas – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was joined Katie Couric, John Legend, David Pogue and Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson who helped illustrate some of the changes being made by the Internet stalwart.

Mayer ran through a long list of changes that she has been implementing at Yahoo since taking over as CEO earlier this year. This includes revamping how news will be delivered, improved video and entertainment and two new online magazines covering the tech and food categories.

The keynote’s main theme was the importance mobile is now playing and to help Yahoo’s presence here Mayer announced that the company has acquired Aviate. Aviate automatically categorizes Android apps and uses location and contextual data from the device to suggest activities. It is currently in beta testing.

Leading the parade of celebrities on stage at the LVH Theater Tuesday afternoon was Katie Couric, who has joined Yahoo as it “Global Anchor.” Couric told the crowd that she has big plans to bring her style of journalism to the site.

“I see Yahoo as a blank slate,” Couric said, adding she will use her new position to conduct interviews with all kinds of people, anyone with an interesting story to tell.

Mayer discussed the importance delivering currated news has played at Yahoo, but noted that a better delivery method was needed. She then introduced Yahoo News Digest. The digest will be currated and delivered to Yahoo readers twice per day. It will contain about nine primary stories each created by using content from several news sources. For each story there will be several interactive components including maps, video, photos and links to the original stories.

Mayer then segued to former N.Y. Times tech columnist David Pogue, who recently joined Yahoo as VP media. Pogue managed to cram several events into his five minutes on the stage, including giving a rundown on how he and his staff will cover technology for the masses and not just for the technologically savvy.

“At Yahoo Tech there is a language we are going to speak and it’s called English,” Pogue said.

Pogue literally threw, or more accurately pushed, the switch launching Yahoo Tech on a smartphone while on stage. Instead of a list of headlines, all the stories on the site are linked via an image.

In tandem with this launch Mayer also pointed out Yahoo’s other new online magazine, Yahoo! Food.

Yahoo’s video component is also being brought to the forefront. The site now features an interactive programming guide and Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of mobile and emerging products, showed off Yahoo Smart TV, which will learn what a viewer likes and make useful viewing suggestions.

Mayer also hyped her company’s tie to Saturday Night Live hyping the fact that Yahoo is the lone repository for SNL clips. She then brought out SNL cast members Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson. Strong did a quick Weekend Update segment poking fun at CES and the tech industry, while Thompson, dressed as Al Sharpton and doing a bit centered on referring to Yahoo as the chocolate drink Yoohoo.

The last one-third of Mayer’s keynote focused on Yahoo’s new advertising platforms. The company has launched a suite of unified ad platforms called Yahoo Audience, Yahoo Ad Manager and Yahoo Ad Exchange. In addition, Tumblr Sponsored Posts Powered by Yahoo Advertising has been added to push ad content out through Tumblr’s network.

The address closed with a two-song performance by John Legend, one of the artists who participated in Yahoo’s 2013 On The Road Tour.

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