Commentary

A Simpler Google Contrasts With Yahoo's Strategy

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.

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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.

5 comments about "A Simpler Google Contrasts With Yahoo's Strategy".
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  1. Jo Guerra from Your Marketing Gal, May 7, 2010 at 12:05 p.m.

    I've had Yahoo as my home page for years. I love the news and stories. However, when I do searches, I still use Google - perhaps out of habit. I also use so many of Google's free tools. I feel I get the best of both worlds this way. Good article, by the way.

  2. Leyla Arsan from Lotus Marketing, May 7, 2010 at 12:15 p.m.

    I've used Yahoo! since the early/mid 90s, it has been my homepage since at least '95. I had NO clue it was a techie faux paux to use Yahoo! until last year. When I realized that I *should* be using Google, I tried to make the switch.

    I tried to stick to Google for a while & I just really missed my Yahoo! homeapage. I love having all my news & the information I've selected right there as an option. Yahoo! is also my mail server so it is great.

    I market a product that appeals to women in 2nd and 3rd tier cities so I think Yahoo is the best option for my PPC campaign. We'll see, I will test yahoo and google to see how outperforms.

    To be honest, I usually use 3 search engines on a regular basis. Instead of navigating to page 2 or 3 in Google, I switch to Yahoo! to see what they offer on page 1. I sometimes even go to Ask.com for a different perspective. I always thought that made more savvy.

    In any case, I am a fan of Yahoo! And, they have some great add-on features - Flickr, Pipes, Yahoo! Local, etc.

    http://www.leylaruinseverything.com

  3. David Culbertson from LightBulb Interactive, May 7, 2010 at 12:21 p.m.

    I've always like sports.yahoo.com - great content and well organized.

  4. Aaron Goldman from 4C, May 7, 2010 at 8:32 p.m.

    Agree that Yahoo is a better sticky portal but don't think that's necessarily a good thing. Advertisers would rather reach people when they're in a commercial mindset, actively looking for something, and in-between modes of content consumption -- not when they're deeply engaged in content and forced to interrupt.

    More here:

    http://digitalseachange.blogspot.com/2010/05/yahoo-chides-google-for-keeping-it.html

  5. David Jaeger from Global SEM Partners, May 9, 2010 at 12:54 a.m.

    It's nice that someone put this out there that wasn't in Yahoo. I have a close relationship to our Yahoo team, and they have clearly told me that Carol Bartz isn't even focused on the search share fight. She is focused on being able to segment their users better. (Don't tell that to privacy groups!)

    All of their media we get is all targeted towards display, with search taking a rear seat to it.

    I will say that Yahoo is a tricky beast from a PPC perspective. We've seen that performance kill it for some, bomb for others. A big part has been their search partners which you weren't able to root out very well until January.

    There's alot of opportunity with Yahoo, most of it not in PPC.

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