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Summary:

The battle over Yahoo’s search business as witnessed over the last few days seems both ridiculous and petty. And it takes the attention away from what is Yahoo’s true value: a media aggregation platform. Yahoo is the place a lot of people — some 400 million […]

The battle over Yahoo’s search business as witnessed over the last few days seems both ridiculous and petty. And it takes the attention away from what is Yahoo’s true value: a media aggregation platform. Yahoo is the place a lot of people — some 400 million — visit to get their news, sports scores and email. I have always liked that business, and yesterday I experienced, first-hand, the enormous strength of Yahoo.

A story by Judi Sohn, who edits WebWorkerDaily, one of our growing portfolio of blogs, was featured on the home page of Yahoo last night. The story got voted up via Yahoo’s Buzz, a service akin to Digg, except much more powerful.

In a few hours, the story about what to expect when switching from a BlackBerry to an iPhone was viewed over 200,000 times and attracted over 350 comments. Now that’s a lot of traffic — but more importantly, a gigantic amount of engagement displayed by Yahoo visitors. The traffic sent our way by Yahoo was many times the traffic we get from, say, Digg or StumbleUpon.

At the risk of repeating myself, Yahoo’s core business now is “audience.” The company, instead of trying to out-Google Google, needs to beat itself by figuring out new ways to keep the audience growing. The first step is, of course, acknowledging that it is a content company. The next one: figuring out new engagement and audience-grabbing ways.

Update: Hitwise sent me a traffic comparison for Yahoo Buzz and other social sites. Buzz is kicking butt!

  1. Om,

    I think you’ve hit upon the core value of Yahoo as an Internet media company. This fact is backed up by the obvious, Google kills Yahoo when measuring search market share, yet falls short when measuring audience size and engagement. Yahoo’s product strategy should build upon these advantages at its’ core, and concede search to Google which is their core competency.

    Thanks for stating what needed to be said about Yahoo, hopefully industry watchers will recognize this fact and stop calling Yahoo a search company.

    Best,

    Curtis

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  2. That’s phenomenal. When I do get on Digg, Fark, Slasdot, et al, it’s just “drive by traffic” that doesn’t comment and bounces right away.

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  3. Exactly right Om.

    I think the hysteria about Yahoo not accepting Microsoft’s bid is kind of dying down and the internet pundits are coming to their senses.

    People are realizing what great assets Yahoo has, their engaged and loyal audience and the fact that search is just a small adjunct of their entire business.

    All that’s left is executing on monetization efforts in such a way that they do not alienate those 400 million daily visitors.

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  4. Could not agree with you more about Yahoo’s core strength as media aggregator.

    I am curious to know how you view Yahoo’s email property?

    cheers!

    kamla

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  5. Congrats on the homepage placement, Om, and thanks for including specific data on the traffic impact.

    Too bad smaller publishers can’t yet add Buzz to their sites, although apparently this will change “soonish” – http://publisher.buzz.yahoo.com/about

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  6. Actually, Yahoo already figured out how to attract giant volumes of audiences. Right now they have a totally different issue on their hands. They do not have a clue how to monetize that huge traffic just half as efficiently as Google does its own.

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  7. I agree. The amount of behavioral data that Yahoo must have from millions of users over several years – tied to applications and services and email habits – seems to be a marketing/media dream.

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  8. @Zoltan,

    the first step would be reconcile with this reality. Maybe next step would be to do sell out the search business for about $10 billion and use that money to double down on content/audiences and figuring out how to reconcile that with changes in media landscape.

    I think that is wagon they need to get onto. I think Flickr is a perfect example of getting ahead of the game and how beautifully they have integrated advertising into it.

    I am thinking about this and in time will do an updated post. I wish they would get their act together, cut the fat, become smaller and focused. That is their step forward.

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  9. Um, why don’t you integrate a Digg (&more) icon on for your stories?

    And I mean the right way so it is present even w/o needing to click through to the whole story.

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  10. I agree completely. Yahoo has a lot of great stuff going on, in fact too much. They could benefit from someone coming from outside, someone that has the necessary detachment to get rid of some businesses and focus the company around a single, focused, easy to understand mission statement.

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