12/10/2009 11:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Carol Bartz is coming to terms with the Internet's past and future

Carol Bartz is making a pretty quick study of the Internet's past (and future?). In quotes that appeared in Ad Age and Paid Content, no-nonsense Bartz acknowledged that the Internet had over-sold itself to advertisers at the outset.

Ad Age captured it this way:

Ms. Bartz told analysts the challenge ahead for the iconic web portal is not to compete with Google or Microsoft but to compete for the biggest pot of ad dollars, which is currently in broadcast and cable TV. Ad dollars have not flowed online as audiences have, she said, in part because the promise of online advertising was oversold to marketers at the outset "and did not deliver."

In Paid Content, Bartz was quoted as follows:

Asked about the disparity between online media usage and internet ad spending at UBS Media Week, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz said that the gap was in part because internet advertising had initially over-sold itself: "I think internet advertising oversold itself at the beginning, over-promised preciseness." That, however, she said, was beginning to change. "Things are looking up. We're seeing marketers engage."

It is a simple statement that is true. The Internet over-promised "preciseness," which really means it over-promised what might result from preciseness.

Preciseness surely exists online. It is a world of niches. By itself, however, we've demonstrated that preciseness does not equate to one-to-one. One-to-one is a trust thing, not one of our strong suits online. As a result, consumers have not altered how they respond to advertising, or been abundant in praise of its value.

But, Bartz seems to be working on that problem, cleaning up the Yahoo! environment and communicating her respect for the audience. May that sort of leadership continue, and may the medium start to matter as much as the message.