Friday, May 14, 2010

Yahoo as an internet information filter

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is talking up personalization again, this time in an amusingly titled Esquire article:
When you talk about the Internet growing to 225 million sites, you've got to ask: Who's parsing all that? How do you make sense of all that stuff?

I mean, who has time to wander all over the Internet?

Tomorrow's Yahoo! is going to be really tailored. I'm not talking about organization — organizing means that you already know what you want and somebody's just putting it in shape for you. I'm talking about both smart science and people culling through masses of information on the fly and figuring out what people want to know.

We will be delivering your interests to you. For instance, if you're a sports fan but have no interest in tennis, we won't show you tennis. We would know that you do things in a certain sequence, so we'd say, "Here's your portfolio. Here's some news you might like. Oh, you went to this movie last week, here's some other movies you might want to check out."

I call it the Internet of One. I want it to be mine, and I don't want to work too hard to get what I need. In a way, I want it to be HAL. I want it to learn about me, to be me, and cull through the massive amount of information that's out there to find exactly what I want.
Please see also my June 2009 post, "Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz on personalization", for more on Yahoo's vision of recommending information.

[Esquire article found Nick Carr]


Hezi said...

"Oh, you went to this movie last week, here's some other movies you might want to check out."

What an innovation!

Jeremy Zawodny said...

The problem is that Yahoo execs have been saying this for literally years now. When will it come true?

I know: I was there for to long and saw a lot of it first-hand.

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Jeremy! Thanks for stopping by!

Absolutely, I couldn't agree more. In fact, I have a list of what Yahoo execs have been saying about personalized information in this post here:

Goes back a long way! Talk is cheap, and the Yahoo execs have been talking for a long time, but the execution has just never been there.

Perhaps they could have made it happen years ago had they brought in some very motivated people with a strong track record of getting things done -- hey, Yahoo, remember me? -- but we'll never know at this point. Let's just hope Yahoo gets it done soon.

Todd Beaupre said...

Greg, when are you going to move from Rainyville to Sunnyvale and help us out? :)

We are making some real progress toward personalization, but there is clearly still a lot of opportunity to realize. Here's a quote from Carol Bartz's last earnings call:

"...we’ve been using our unique approach of combining human editors to choose great stories, and letting our content optimization engine determine the best content for our users.

I want to talk with this content engine for a second because it’s an amazing technology that has been growing more and more advanced over the last several months. In its first iteration, our content optimization engine recommended the most popular news items to our users. The result was 100% click through rate increase over time. In January, we introduced release two of the engine, which included some of our behavioral targeting technology. This capability, coupled of course with great content, led our today module to experience click through rates 160% over pre-engine implementation."

While we have not been branding the personalization to end users in a strong way, the data shows it is having a major impact on user engagement across dozens of markets.

I am really looking forward to pointing you to more applications that make you really feel this relevance personally. Stay tuned. We are shipping improvements every week.