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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer at CES this past week.

Putting on a Consumer Electronics Show keynote is not easy for any company, but the stakes were especially high for Yahoo in Las Vegas this past week, providing a chance for CEO Marissa Mayer to redefine the company and make a statement to the rest of the tech industry.

So how did she and her cast of acquired startup leaders and journo-celebrities do?

Not that great, based on the results of a study conducted by market research and audience analysis firm Dialsmith, using the technology company’s Perception Analyzer dials with a group of more than 30 tech pros and tech workers who were watching a live stream of the Yahoo keynote in Dialsmith’s hometown of Portland, Ore.

The exercise is interesting because it provides a structured assessment of a major CES keynote from outside Silicon Valley, vs. the more anecdotal reaction that typically takes place among event attendees on social media (or afterward at the hotel bar).

Overall, the group described Mayer as an effective emcee for the event, but they wanted more of her vision for the company and thoughts on the industry. She started things off on a bad note when she made the claim that Yahoo is second only to Disney as the world’s most-loved consumer brand. Note the dip in the dials in the graphic below, indicating the group’s reaction to that statement.


“I’ve never seen the Yahoo brand rank that highly anywhere. It isn’t believable,” one of the participants told the Dialsmith researchers, as quoted in a report from the company.

“Starting off with that statement, she undermined her credibility for the rest of the keynote,” agreed another.

Katie Couric and Marissa Mayer at Yahoo’s CES keynote.

(For what it’s worth, the stat comes from an October 2013 report from APCO Worldwide’s research consultancy.)

The appearance by Yahoo News personality Katie Couric got the group’s attention, with a favorable reaction overall, but participants in the study questioned the overall impact she could have on Yahoo’s news operations.

On the plus side for Yahoo, the group gave high marks to Yahoo’s new product rollouts at the event, including Yahoo News Digest, a twice-daily mobile news summary; and the new Yahoo Tech site. People in the group who weren’t already Yahoo users said the demonstrations piqued their interest.

Participants in the study also liked the appearance by Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchor Cecily Strong, who lampooned the tech industry in her monologue; and SNL’s Kenan Thompson (appearing as Al Sharpton), who referred to the company as “Yoo-hoo.”

They were less impressed with David Pogue, the Yahoo Tech leader who was hired by the company last year from the New York Times. Pogue criticized the tech media — lampooning the jargon-laden headlines on popular gadget sites — and took aim at the rest of the tech world, suggesting that people on the East and West coasts aren’t in tune with the rest of the country.

People in the group criticized Pogue’s “preachy” style and said he was “talking down” to the audience. He received the most unfavorable scores of any Yahoo keynote presenter, according to the Dialsmith results.

In case you missed it, here’s the full archive of the Yahoo keynote. What do you think?

See the full Dialsmith report here, and our earlier Startup Spotlight feature about the company.

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