Yahoo's Traffic Plummeted In December But Marissa Mayer Didn't Mention It

Once again, Yahoo’s traffic plummeted in December. A chart that CEO Marissa Mayer flashed briefly on screen during her Q4 earnings call this week — but which notably did not appear in Yahoo’s official investor slides — shows that sometime in December, the nice ramp-up of users Yahoo had been building all year suddenly disappeared:

The chart measures daily “average” pageviews for mobile + desktop traffic. It’s tough to tell how dramatic the dropoff was. A few per cent or 50%? No one knows.

The chart also omits the same curve for 2012, which would allow observers to see whether Yahoo’s “December Dropoff” is getting better or worse.

That omission is also notable because Mayer has touted it on previous earnings calls. On the Q3 2013 call, it looked like this:

It’s tough to tell how bad the dropoff is without the numbers you’d need to re-plot the graph. We asked two different Yahoo spokespersons for comment but neither was forthcoming.

On the call, Mayer said this (transcript may not be completely accurate):

After years of global traffic decline in Yahoo, we managed to reverse the negative trend. In June of 2013, we achieved year over year growth. Effectively, our raise in the declines in the prior year. And then in September 2013, we achieved cost over with our 2011 global traffic levels raising in two full years of decline. These were incredible milestones for Yahoo and I regard this progress as a testament to the impact of building great products that engage, inspire, and entertain our users. In January, we started 2014 with traffic solidly higher than last year which poises us well for growth.

Again, what is notable about that statement is that it trumpets Yahoo’s traffic in June and September, but says nothing about December. If you try to mentally impose the new chart on top of the old one, it almost looks as if December 2013’s traffic dipped even lower than it did in 2012.

Here is a theory: Yahoo is heavily focused on news and current events, not shopping. During December, users tend to move more toward shopping activities rather than news. And in the week between Christmas and New Year hardly anyone looks at the news.

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