What Getting Buzzed Says About Yahoo

37 Comments

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!

37 Comments

Jon Moss

That is seriously impressive – I need to take a proper look at Yahoo! Buzz pronto.

They may not be cool and hip for the switched on web kids, but it show that people still use their homepage as their portal.

DP81

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is about time someone with a larger voice finally wrote about the strength of Yahoo. Yahoo is a destination with content people search out. It has the number one Finance and Sports site (in terms of traffic). They also lead the industry in display advertising, which is significantly more important/useful for marketers. Search ads…seriously, who is really clicking on them. If Microsofts CPA model catches fire, advertisers will revolt against the fraudable CPC model of Google. There is absolutely no reason why Yahoo cannot still be a major player in five years and they would be massively foolish to sell to Microsoft. While Yahoo Buzz has already displayed its utility, Im even more interested in the impact of Go 3.0. I wrote about a month ago about the reasons Yahoo should stay independent here:
http://dpconnected.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/why-yahoo-is-right-and-the-media-majority-is-wrong/

Farhan

@nutmac and @@nutmac

Buzz>Digg b/c more people use Yahoo’s front page then use digg. And the people who use Buzz are more likely to engage with the actually content on the site.

(Discloser I work for Y! although this comment is my own opinion)

Ilgaz

Someone finally gets it right. Yahoo is a huge “internet utility” and community rather than just a search engine. In fact the clue appeared when enormous number of users are found to search “yahoo mail” or “yahoo” on Google.
I wished you didn’t name “Digg”, a very valid point will disappear thanks to both services fanatics.

@nutmac

Buzz is more powerful when you install it on your site but not digg!

OM, why don’t you put a digg button on your stories??

nutmac

Could anyone explain how Yahoo! Buzz is “much more powerful” than Digg?

Mark Sigal

Great post, Om, and I like your definition as it is simple and clear, ala Google’s ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’

I would argue, though, that Yahoo’s problems are two-fold. One is the core business definition, and strategy/tactics to support. Two is properly aligned culture/organization.

Simply put, if Yahoo had the leadership to say our core business now is “audience,” then they could come up with a plan how that will drive where they focus, what skills they need, and culturally what they want to change, which will inevitably define who needs to “get off the bus.”

The problem is: Is their a core management team that can articulate a vision, strategy and tactical focus? I haven’t seen it or heard it and the talent exodus speaks for itself.

Great, save-able company if they can thread that particular needle.

Cheers,

Mark

Om Malik

@Tom Sanders,

To answer your question: About 30% (60,000 PV) came from the Buzz page. Still a very big number. In comparison with Digg on average brings in about 8500-10000 page views, considering that we don’t end up on that site compared to other blogs.

Tom Sanders

Getting on the Yahoo Home Page is an entirely different ball game than getting dugg or /.d. It does happen to be the #1 destination on the internet and if you do some simple back of the envelope calc – you’re probably converting <0.001% of the pageviews that the home page sees.

Now, it would be interesting to see what % of those 200,000 visits came from the home page v/s the Yahoo Buzz page. That would probably be an apples-to-apples comparison of how Yahoo Buzz is doing compared to a Digg or /.

I agree that Yahoo is a content company and I did read the iphone vs. blackberry article which, btw, was great. The global appeal, coupled with timeliness of the content makes it ripe for the Yahoo Home Page. Some user love and luck definitely helps… ;)

Uri Schonfeld

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.

FiletOFish

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.

Om Malik

@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.

Andy Wibbels

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.

Zoltan

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.

kamla bhatt

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

Ericson Smith

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.

Andrew

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.

Curtis

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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