Will The “Next Web” Belong To Yahoo?

Yahoo Chief Product Officer, Blake Irving, spoke about “the next web” (not the technology blog) at the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit last week. Yahoo has posted a “concise version&#...
Will The “Next Web” Belong To Yahoo?
Written by Chris Crum
  • Yahoo Chief Product Officer, Blake Irving, spoke about “the next web” (not the technology blog) at the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit last week. Yahoo has posted a “concise version” of his opening remarks from he event, in which he talks about the future of the web, which will be driven in large part by Yahoo, if Irving has anything to say about it.

    “I see a future where deeply personal digital experiences are easy to discover, delightful to consume, and effortless to share,” he says. “If done right, it will transform the way people use the Web. When I say ‘deep personalization,’ I don’t just mean some preference controls; I mean content that is so timely, relevant and personal that it actually adds meaning to your life.”

    While he doesn’t actually talk about it in the post, Yahoo recently revealed a new personalization engine for delivering its content to users, called Content Optimization and Relevance Engine or C.O.R.E.

    “Every hour C.O.R.E. processes 1.2 terrabytes of data in order to learn how a user’s behaviors and interests influence the likelihood of clicking on a specific article,” the Yahoo spokesperson told us last month. “And, every day, C.O.R.E. personalizes 2.2 billion pieces of content for Yahoo! users.”

    “Since optimizing with C.O.R.E., Yahoo!’s Homepage click-through rate has increased 300%,” she said at the time. “Yahoo!’s personalization approach is a clever mix of scientific algorithms and human judgment, as editors have control to override C.O.R.E. at any time, to ensure certain stories are seen. Initially developed within Yahoo! Labs, C.O.R.E. has become a vital tool used throughout the day by editors across the company to bring our users personalized news, first.”

    We can’t be sure if this is the main driving force of what Yahoo is considering “the next web,” but my guess is that it’s a key element. Of course, it’s not as if personalization of content is really a new thing, let alone the next thing. In fact, Irving has been singing a similar tune for quite some time. Here’s a video from 2010 where he’s talking about making the web personal:

    Still, personalization of content can still get better, and that appears to be a primary focus for Yahoo.

    “In future, I see a Web that acts on my behalf, one that finds content and connections for me and presents it to me in context—aware of my location, my activity, my social situation, my economics and my most timely considerations,” says Irving. “I see a Web where trust and transparency are the price of entry for publishers and technology providers, and where relationships are understood and cherished—on both sides of the connection.”

    “If the technology economic model is done right, the best content will just come to me, and it will be as diverse and nuanced as I am—and as you are,” he says. “It’s not about vague categories of interest—cars, sports, technology, advertising, whatever. It’s about just the content I’d go out to find if I had the time and resources do it manually. It’s down there in the tail of the Web. And, even more so, it’s down in the torso of the Web—where there are economics at play, albeit a model that is mostly broken.”

    He says that there’s “no question” that the web will become deeply personal, and that it’s just a matter of who makes it happen. He seems to think Yahoo has a shot at being the one, or at least a major contributor. And that might in fact be the case. As I write this (at about 12:15 EST), Yahoo has already had nearly 60 million homepage views for the day.

    There are a lot of other companies contributing to the personalization of content consumption. Yahoo may very well be the gateway to a lot of it, but the social efforts of companies like Google, Facebook and others are already driving this to a huge extent.

    Yahoo is undergoing a major transformation. Will it work? Who knows?

    Yahoo is 17 years old. Where will it be in another 17 years? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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