Yesterday Google rolled out an even simpler design to its homepage and search results pages. Back in February, Danny Sullivan wrote about Google's new look and feel as users began reporting a different Google while it was being tested. I recall reading this article, then expressing concern over the lack of the Wonder Wheel in the screen shots. Thank goodness, Google included the Wonder Wheel in this latest version, so I can still see who and what related searches come up with my name.
For years, I have wondered why Yahoo continued to clutter its homepage as Google took more and more market share with its simplistic design. I think the new Yahoo commercial makes it very clear what's happening. Yahoo is not Google. Although it's jumping ship on search by partnering with Microsoft, I think we are now experiencing a much more focused Yahoo. It's the leader in display advertising, and its strategists are embracing this strength. The message of the commercial is: users go to Google to go somewhere else, but Yahoo is a place where you can hang out.
After watching the Yahoo commercial, I had a revelation. Yahoo is good at being an information portal. I have never been much of a Yahoo user; however, anytime I use our home computer, I do find myself engrossed in the news and information on the Yahoo homepage. My husband (of six months today) keeps Yahoo as the default homepage on our shared home computer. We share a lot of the same interests, like sports teams, so much of the information is also tailored to me. I realized that when I use this computer and open the browser, I frequently am distracted from what I originally sat down to do, but walk away more informed about the world around me.
Yahoo is not good at being a search engine, but it has honed in on what it's good at doing. In fact, I had a difficult time finding a link to its commercial via Yahoo Search! But, Yahoo is a fantastic place to put everything you want to see -- and then it can target you with display ads. Display advertising is what Yahoo is banking on, and I think the company is on target with its new commercial.
Contrary to others in the industry viewing the spot as calling Google out, I think the commercial does a very good job of differentiating Yahoo from Google. It establishes a unique value proposition, which is a fundamental requirement of a strong advertising campaign: The search engine versus the portal, not as a battle, just serving different purposes.
I logged into my Yahoo account this morning, which typically sits dormant outside of fantasy football season, and customized my Yahoo homepage. I will see how it goes. If I get frustrated, you will likely hear about it in a future column. For now, My Yahoo is Me.