The Truth Is, Marissa Mayer Hates Schmoozing

Marissa Mayer holding a water glass

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When she was at Google—a company that makes billions of dollars from advertising—Marissa Mayer was notorious for her unwillingness to meet with the advertising agency executives who were Google’s best clients.As CEO, Eric Schmidt would go when asked, sure. 

But Mayer?


See, ad buyers are not her people.

Mayer’s people are users and engineers.

Not the suits.

One reason why, according to people in the industry, is that while Mayer may look like a Hollywood actress, she’s not particularly comfortable around the schmoozy set. In a way that does not come off as insulting, people describe her interpersonal style as “geeky.” (This may seem surprising given that Mayer is actually very smooth on stage in front of crowds.)

So, when Mayer took the CEO job at Yahoo in July, amid the excitement across the industry, there was also a major concern.

Yahoo is an almost entirely ad-supported company. 

And, unlike Google, which gets lots of revenues from small businesses that buy search ads, Yahoo is particularly dependent on the schmoozy people at advertising agencies, because ad agencies buy brand advertising, which is Yahoo’s bread and butter.

To be a successful Yahoo CEO, one must win over ad agency types—or at least grace them with a meeting or two and convince them that you really do care about their vision for Yahoo.

The concern was: Would Mayer deign to meet with agency types? Or would she try to delegate the duty to some lesser-known lieutenant?

For the first six months of her tenure, it seemed like Mayer was going to opt for the second option.

That’s because, even till now, she has had almost zero interaction with Yahoo’s biggest clients.

But that’s all supposed to change in about two weeks.

AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reports that Mayer is planning on making a prolonged visit to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in two weeks.

There, she is going to…

  • Do a “fireside chat” with Laura Desmond, the CEO of agency Starcom MediaVest Group.
  • Host a series of one-on-one meetings with agency heavies.
  • Throw a Yahoo dinner party.
  • Go to a bunch of other parties thrown by other companies.

The plan, according to Swisher, is for Yahoo to fully deploy the “Marissa Halo” in hopes of scoring big ad deals.You can almost hear a collective PHEW! from Yahoo shareholders and employees from coast to coast.

The news is this: Mayer may hate meeting with ad types, but she knows it’s a big part of her new job and she’s up to the task.