Yahoo's Mayer Mobilizes 'Immersive' Search Experience, Partnerships

Mayer-0513a1Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer spoke with analysts Tuesday during the company's Q1 2013 earnings call, explaining the "incremental" progress it continues to make on growing search volume across its engines and sites.

"I'd like to see us grow our search business even faster -- especially in terms of click volume and for that I think we need to invest in making the search experience even more immersive, which we will be doing over the coming quarters," Mayer said.

Mayer said Yahoo has been focused for the last several months on "revamping" its largest products and properties -- building new experiences optimized for smaller screens, such as tablets and mobile, to stay ahead of the "huge industry shift in Internet access." She cites that more than 1 billion people access the Web on their mobile devices today, and tablet use continues to grow even faster than smartphones did.

By 2015, Mayer expects more people to access the Internet on mobile devices than on PCs. Yahoo saw 200 million monthly mobile users at the end of 2013 access its sites. "In just the first three months of this year, we've already surpassed 300 million mobile monthly users," she said.

Macquarie Capital Analyst Ben Schachter asked if user interface improvements are enough to drive search share, or whether Yahoo needs to think about default search deals, partnerships, or further develop its own browsers.

Mayer said her experience suggests that user-interface improvements should increase search share -- although partnerships with companies like Apple, where Yahoo provides stock and weather quotes to their default applications, help people familiarize themselves with the company's offerings.

"If you tap on what we call the Ybing, the Y inside the oval with the exclamation point after it -- I believe it's in the lower left-hand corner -- you can see it brings you to a search results page and offers to set your mobile search to Yahoo," Mayer said. "It's been a great source of search traffic for us on mobile in terms of people really recognizing that they can set, for example, the default search in Safari to Yahoo.

Yahoo also partnered with Firefox to distribute a Yahoo-enhanced Firefox browser that offers defaults for the Yahoo home page and search engine.

Mayer said Yahoo would like to grow market share "at least the rate of the market, and ultimately grow faster than the market, which means, winning share."

So far, so good in terms of slowly gaining search query market share. Yahoo's U.S. search query market share in March rose from 11.6% in February to 11.8% in March, according to comScore. Microsoft's share rose from 16.7% to 16.9%, up from 16.7%, sequentially.

What to know more? Come to the MediaPost Search Insider Summit April 30 to hear from execs at the world's three top search engines: Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. 

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