Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yahoo on personalizing content and ads

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz had a few tidbits on personalized relevance for content and advertising in the recent Yahoo Q4 2009 earnings call. Some excerpts:
We generate value ... [through] the vast amount of data we gather and use to deliver a better, more personal experience for users and a better, more targeted audience for our advertisers.

Since we began paring our content optimization technology with editorial expertise we have seen click through rates in the Today module more than double ... We are making additional improvements to the technology that will make the user experience even more personally relevant.

Truth be told, no one has uncovered the holy grail of making advertising as relevant as content is 100% of the time. Beyond just offering advertisers a specific bucket, say women aged 35-45 and have children, we instead need to deliver many more specific attributes of scale. For example, women aged 35-45 with kids under three who are shopping for a minivan, and on and on and on and on. If we can do this we can create a better experience for both the user and the advertiser.

We have been letting great data about the consumers, data that is very attractive to advertisers fall to the floor ... We simply aren't even close to maximizing the value of our massive audience for advertisers.
Sounds like the goal is right, but the pace is slow. For more on that, please see also my June 2009 post, "Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz on personalization".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They've been talking about that for years. (I'm not there any longer.) There were some cool talks on what they were trying to do with personalization, but I don't think very much came of it, or at least it was much more modest than I expected. I was never sure if that was for technical reasons or organizational reasons, although I would bet that the latter had a lot to do with it.

I will say that in my opinion, personalization makes other things more difficult. For example, personalization makes it harder to do A/B tests, in analysis you risk segmenting your data to such a degree that noise dominates, etc. They're not insurmountable, but they do make it more difficult to simply plug in a personalization system to an advertising ecosystem as large as Yahoo's. So the gains of personalization have to be weighed against these costs.