Yahoo's relaunched home page has led to an approximately 9% increase in page views and 20% increase in time spent on the site, according to a research note issued by JPMorgan analyst Imran Khan. The report highlighted key points from an event Yahoo held Wednesday for financial analysts at its Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters.
Among other insights on the revamped home page that Yahoo began rolling out three months ago, the company said the new applications menu on the left side of the page is helping to drive ad relevance, with 40% of visitors using six to 10 apps. Yahoo also said the click -through rate on the main display ad on the front page has improved by 10%.
As of September, Yahoo ranked second to Google in U.S. traffic with 159.8 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, according to comScore. That total was up slightly from 158 million in August and 156 million in July, when Yahoo first unveiled the redesigned home page emphasizing increased personalization and easy access to other popular Web properties.
Overall Yahoo page views increased by about 2.3 million, or 5%, to 41.4 million between July and September. It will still take several months to gauge the full impact of the home page changes, however.
Yahoo is also studying user data including home page clicks, buzz metrics and search behavior to help build its programming lineup. "We think this approach can help differentiate Yahoo from competitors," wrote Khan. "The company is hiring journalists and bloggers to create content that matches Yahoo's personality. In addition, the company has increased its focus on bringing breaking news and big events to different verticals such as Yahoo Sports."
Actually, it sounds a lot like what AOL has been doing over the last 18 months or so, building out scores of narrow content channels and hiring bloggers and traditional journalists to staff them. It seems more that Yahoo is playing catch up in creating content to match the Internet's fragmented audience.
Yahoo is also striving to be more nimble, so changes to the site can be made more quickly. To that end, the company plans to reduce its 33 different coding systems to one by the end of 2010. In addition to speeding the launch to new products and tools, Khan believes the streamlining effort will also help Yahoo better respond to advertiser needs.
He also reported that during her opening comments, CEO Carol Bartz stated the goal of improving company margins, declaring that "6% operating margins are unacceptable."
Yahoo last week reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings, even while revenue declined again amid the lingering ad slump. However, the company indicated that the downturn appeared to be bottoming out, with premium display advertising picking up over the prior quarter.