It's tough being the old guy in the Internet business. In its early years, Yahoo! (YHOO) battled and outlasted a slew of competitors, like Lycos and Excite. Then, a little upstart called Google (GOOG) leached away its buzz and many of its users. And after Microsoft (MSFT) launched a $100 million campaign for its Bing search engine this year, Yahoo joined Microsoft in a 10-year search partnership.

Well, Yahoo! isn't going to take it anymore. The company today unveiled its own $100 million campaign -- hard-to-read tagline: "It's Y!ou" -- at a press conference during Advertising Week in New York. The message of the global campaign is to remind consumers (and advertisers) that Yahoo is committed to deliver "personally relevant" experiences, according to chief marketing officer Elisa Steele.
Sound familiar? It's not dissimilar from the message Yahoo has been sending to consumers for years. Asked about what's different about "Y!ou" versus previous campaigns, tart-tongued CEO Carol Bartz responded, "Why are you so cynical about us? Be cynical about Google." And, if that wasn't clear, she added: "You've got me pissed off."

In a somewhat calmer vein, Bartz explained that the message is an evolution of the company's mission, at a time when "the Internet is even bigger and more scrambled eggs." The point is to convince consumers to look again at the site, which has been revamped and refreshed with new products, such as video calling in Yahoo's messenger service. "The experience is really different from what it was five years ago," Steele said.

The ads will be seen in print, online, and on TV, and will feature "regular people" and slogans like, "There's a new master of the digital universe. You." The print ads shown at the press conference included real New Yorkers, Steele said.

As for advertisers, the company is starting a business-to-business campaign with branding -- including wrappers on copies of The Wall Street Journal -- aimed at convincing advertisers that Yahoo can deliver insights "on a massive scale," Steele said. "Advertisers follow consumers. and if you want to talk the parlance of advertising, you always need to build circulation," Bartz added. "By having more and more engaged viewers, you are building circulation."

And how is the ad market doing? Hilary Schneider, executive vice president, sounded cautiously optimistic: "You're starting to see a stabilization in terms of where we are in the economy." But don't get too excited; Schneider added, "I wouldn't go so far as to say we're seeing a full recovery."

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