Vertical search vs blended search choices

How are searchers choosing to search?

Blended search, also known as Universal search, has shaken up the search industry over the last year. This is the serving of different types of content in a search engine returned page (SERP).

Vertical search is the ability for searchers to look in content-type channels in a search engine e.g. news or images.

According to a study by Jupiter Research, searchers are still a little shy of vertical search, but when different content types are presented in the SERPs users are much more likely to click on these results.

Searchers still unsure of vertical search

The response for searchers using blended search results differ, perhaps indicating that either users are more comfortable with the main results being served to them than going down a channel which they perceive to offer less choice.

Blended Search responses

TAKEOUT

Blended search offers search marketers additional means of getting traffic. While searchers are still reserved about going down vertical search channels, this may change in the future as users get less patient with search results. (68% of users now don’t search past page 1!!)

However what is clear is the success of blended search – still in it’s infancy but it seems that searchers are liking the choice it provides.

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Yahoo and MSN back in talks – Google looks on

MSN and Yahoo! are back in talks.  You’ll remember that MSN approached Yahoo! with a $40 billion evaluation which was later sweetened by $7.5 billion. On refusal Carl ICahn started getting vocal with his 4% of Yahoo! and a threat to depose 10 of Yahoo’s directors.

Google are in the sidelines watching as the number 2 and 3 in the market (leaving Yandex out of European figures for the moment) disuss becoming a possible number 2 with a third of search market share. something not to be sneezed at with the value of search valued at about $40 billion per annum and set to double by 2010.

It’s certainly all to play for. The test of Google adsense being used in a percentage of Yahoo’s paid search ads last month has attracted the anti trust boys so the previous avenue of a commercial agreement which would see Yahoo as inventory for Google sales looks like its being put on the back burner.

Where will it all end? Without Yahoo, MSN will struggle to grow or even to maintain marketshare with their search offering being so limited in comparison to the products offered by the other two goliaths. Will MSN pursue the social media route instead with it’s proposed talks with Facebook.

Exciting stuff.

Yahoo glue – search getting sticky

Yahoo India is the test bed for a new iteration of Yahoo! search. Yahoo! Glue serves a page of search results but also adds in links to popular pages across the web which Yahoo! thinks might have interesting content on the same subject.

It seems that the sites searched by Yahoo! change dependent on the type of content the searcher is looking for.

Test Searches

As Yahoo Glue is being tested in India, I played around with Indian based queries. Here’s a couple;

A search for “Ashe Boshle” – India’s premier diva of Bollywood pop returns results from Yahoo Search (India partition), Wikipedia, LastFM, YouTube, Yahoo Image search.

A search for “Bangalore”, the city where Yahoo! India is based returns Yahoo Search (India partition), HolidayIQ, Flickr, Yahoo! India Maps, Yahoo India news and sponsored links in both the Yahoo! search area and an additional area for sponsored links. Yahoo! Glue also provides related pages.

In other searches I’ve seen results from google blog search and howstuffworks pages. There’s also a contact email for sites which want to appear on that Glue SERP.

Yahoo Glue – search portal

It’s an interesting development. Yahoo! which has differentiated itself from Google through providing content portal interfaces to it’s users as well as search is now providing search users with basically a search portal. So while Google moves forward with universal and blended search in their SERPs, Yahoo! Glue separates out the results. The user can choose to follow presented content based on their perception of brand loyalty.

The danger is the creation of an implicit oligarchy of internet content – sites which get the Yahoo glue endorsement as a popular site. On the other hand, with Yahoo! looking at costs of content, it does provide useful information to searchers at a fraction of the cost of traditional Yahoo portals.

Wonder if the next step is being able to customise the popular sites based on the searcher’s profile.

Have a play at http://www.yahoo.in.


Yahoo!has more than one choice

Times Warner (owners of AOL) and Yahoo! are in discussion regarding a possible deal which would allow Yahoo! to gain more shareholder control while increasing Time Warner’s market penetration. The Wall Street Journal goes into the ins and outs but basically AOL would be rolled into Yahoo! and Time Warner would stump up some cash giving it 20% of the merged entity and allowing Yahoo! to buy back some of its shares. Sopunds like a sweet deal for both. Especiall considering that Yahoo! was the most visited site in the US last month.

News Corp is now also back in the frame but in a triumvirate solution with Microsoft rather than on it’s own as in previous talks.

Google’s AdSense test roll out on 3% of Yahoo!’s US searches is a great way for Google and Yahoo! to measure the potential revenue generation from a Time Warner (AOL) Yahoo merger…

Yahoo! looks like it’s got more choices – wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer’s office ?

Interestinger and interestinger.

Yahoo & Google put one in the eye to MSN

The search giants are slugging it out and the action is heating up! Yahoo! has just announced that it will test the serving of Google Adsense on its Yahoo.com domain (reportedly 3% of US served results over 2 weeks).

The story so far

This is after a bitter exchange of letters between MSN and Yahoo! on MSN’s offer ($31 per share) for Yahoo! which was rejected as completely undervaluing the company’s worth. At the weekend MSN wrote a letter to Yahoo!’s board which expressed disappointment at the company’s failure to move on the offer and accusing them of being unfair to shareholders. Yahoo! replied with a letter that between the lines calls Microsoft disingenuous, predatory and expecting to pick up the Yahoo! brand at a drop down price.

Who to please – the searcher vs the advertiser

Yahoo!’s fortunes have been mixed, the brand was the search colossus, but while Google concetrated on refining its algorithm around relevancy, it can be argued that Yahoo! focused on portal content, building communities and advertising revenue. Google with its market dominance has in recent years turned its attention to community and web 2.0 through a mixture of acquisition and creation of easy to use, free tools ( google docs, igoogle, blogger, youtube). In simple terms Google’s eye was on pleasing the audience, Yahoo!’s was more traditional and on pleasing the advertiser; and Google’s focus won out.

Future Search Market Share

The time for a Google merger with Yahoo! is long since past. Together they would take about 81% of the US search market. MSN has about 9%; a Yahoo! buyout would give them around 31%. You can see why MSN is keen.

What are Yahoo!’s tactics? Running Google Adsense across Yahoo! platfroms and networks could net the company billions. Is this the plan or are they sticking it to Microsoft to get a better price for shareholders.

It’s like Wargames for search. Nobody wants to have limited choice but Google’s offering is so compelling and MSN has never lived up to it’s search promise with dancing algorithms and limited market penetration. Yahoo! on the other hand is a much loved brand and many in the search industry are rooting for it’s survival intact and ready to fight another day.

From peanut butter to jelly

Is it a clever strategy to get Microsoft to up it’s non-solicited bid, or do the decision-makers in Yahoo! really believe that they will be able to double it’s cash generation ($1.9 – $3.7 billion) over three years. Yahoo! might have brand and scope but it’s share of global search has been seriously eroded by the goliath Google.

Underpinning the predicted growth are the staples of online; search, email and mobile albeit with an increased social slant. Advertising is also key and the hopes are that the release of Panama last year will result in an additional $1.4 in search advertising (reflecting market growth) over the next 3 years. Yahoo! expect an additional $1.9 billion from display and video search (ahead of market forecasts).

With the infamous peanut butter manifesto leaked at the end of 2006, there was a focus on the use of API’s to increase Yahoo!’s sphere of content influence while remaining at the heart of the web. Now it seems that Yahoo! is focusing on some advertising jelly to sweeten it’s future.

Vital Yahoo! Stats:

  • 305 million unique monthly users to homepage
  • 262 million unique monthly users of their mail