Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can Answers save Yahoo!

Was looking at the March Neislen Netview figures and one thing really caught my attention - the phenomenal growth of Yahoo! Answers in the local market.

How much growth - well ... 123% YOY ... which is staggering. It's at 1.99m users as of March 2008.

These users use Answers on average twice a month, and spend just under 6 minutes per month on the site viewing 8 pages.

This must be encouraging for Yahoo! and especially Yahoo!7, who it can be said aren't enjoying much user growth right now. Rohan Lund came out early in the year ambitiously proclaiming that Yahoo!7 wanted to be a players in search, mail, homepage ... and truth be told (according to audited Neilsen data), they aren't seeing much growth in any of these areas.

Answers is interesting for Yahoo! as it's a property that essentially doesn't rely on editorial staff or syndication. Users direct the dialogue through asking questions, and other users submit answers ... these answers are then ranked on relevancy.

I have used it to find everything from unblocking a dishwasher to good restaurants in San Francisco - information I found difficult to obtain using straight search.

One of the areas I feel causes Yahoo! grief is it's reliance on pushing out editorial and syndicated stories to its users ... it lacks a personality or a point of difference as I can get AP feeds EVERYWHERE. It could be argued that in this era of quote Web 2.0 enquote they haven't done the best job of utilising their greatest asset, their users.

Now they are embracing 'social media' -

"Once complete, the company plans to discontinue some of its less popular services and integrate the rest to create a more social environment. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Yahoo will allow users to create applications for its service and integrate those programs across its entire group of offerings"

Interesting moves. Hopefully we see Yahoo!7 locally rolling out this direction as opposed at trying to compete head on with the 5 big players in spaces they perhaps aren't equipped to compete in.

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