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Yahoo Mail Socializing All About The Money

Your friends will influence the ads you see

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Company CEO Jerry Yang told CES 2008 attendees Yahoo Mail would become a much more socially aware application, able to tap into multiple social networks.

The one-stop contact shop idea floated by Yang about Yahoo Mail getting smarter looks like it has another aspect. While advertising already has a place in Yahoo’s email client, the company may be interested in capitalizing on all that social data people will tap.

Resource Shelf pointed out a published patent application from Yahoo that relates to this point. The application bears the title, “Monetization Of Characteristic Values Predicted Using Network-Based Social Ties.”

The patent’s abstract illustrated how this would work to make money for Yahoo:

A method is provided to predict a value for a particular characteristic of a particular user of network-based services. A plurality of other users, other than the particular user, is determined, wherein the particular user has social ties to the plurality of other users.

The predicted value for the particular characteristic of the particular user is monetized, such as by selling advertising to be caused to be displayed to at least the particular user. For example, requested compensation for the advertising is determined based at least in part on the predicted value for the particular characteristic of the particular user.

By identifying a value for a given individual user, Yahoo could conceivably charge an advertiser more for reaching someone who, by virtue of their social networking relationships, should be a more valuable target for the marketing message.

The implementation of such a technology will be closely watched by the same privacy advocates and normal social networkers who complained bitterly about Facebook’s Beacon program. Facebook had to reshuffle its attempt to monetize people’s e-commerce activities.

Yahoo’s patent works behind the scenes, rather than the public fashion of Beacon. How people react to the technology could depend on how relevant and useful they find the sharply targeted advertising coming from it.

Yahoo Mail Socializing All About The Money
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