Regardless of its fumbles, Yahoo is a news and content powerhouse, and that’s what new CEO Marissa Mayer wants to focus on. Recent high-profile acquisitions including Tumblr and Summly, along with ad tech start-ups, have shown Yahoo’s renewed interest in its news and content service, as well as the site’s focus on freshening up its old school approach. In its Thursday’s announcement, Yahoo added a major redesign and a news reader service to its list of recent changes and additions.
Yahoo News now features major personalization efforts – a far cry from content-driven sites like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. It’s likely that this is thanks to the integration of Summly’s technology – note that it’s powered by SRI, which Summly licensed. Of course, with this type of customization come risks: It means that the type of content you’ll read on Yahoo is up to Yahoo’s technology and the algorithms it has built. So if you give it a shot and feel like it’s just not right and you’re not finding stories you like, you might bail fast and never look back. At the same time, user-curated reading services have been taking off, and no one can blame Yahoo for implementing the idea as well.
Yahoo is trying really hard to find a niche that just might not be overshadowed by Google, Facebook, and Twitter. While these platforms are actually technically content aggregators, the reading experience isn’t personalized and that’s where Yahoo’s competitive advantage lies (for now). And if you look at Yahoo News from a mobile strategy perspective – since it has its own app available in the app stores – Yahoo is actually taking on Flipboard, Pulse, Zite and other content apps.
Will the strategy succeed? Not everyone wants to be reading Yahoo-only news, and fortunately Yahoo has plenty of syndication partnerships to boot, so that’s a benefit to this new effort. There is variety: Not only are you reading reports from Yahoo staffers, but that includes partners like ABC News, and Digital Trends as well. The only problem is whether readers are loyal to the Yahoo brand – it’s tough to say, at this point. Yahoo has a big hole to dig itself out of first, although you can’t say the brand isn’t trying to line itself up with Internet trends – case in point: Including a GIF in its announcement of the new redesign. Way to work that Tumblr buy, Yahoo (where the post came from, in fact).
The new design hasn’t rolled out yet, not that you’d really even be able to tell by looking at Yahoo News anyway (since the design itself remains unchanged), but Yahoo says that the update will roll out “over the next couple of days in the United States.