Yahoo is focusing on content indeed but it also remains committed to search, Senior VP of Search Shashi Seth told us during a conversation at the company's premises in Sunnyvale.
Many elements have been pointing recently to a shift in Yahoo's strategy from search to content: the company acquired Associated Content, entered a deal with Nokia, went through a management reshuffle, including recently the departures of top search heads. And of course, there is the Search Alliance under which Microsoft's Bing will power Yahoo's search activities.
True To Search
Well, think again. Speaking to us today, Seth said Yahoo is considering search from an integrated perspective: search, with content to leverage it, and conversely. Meshing together and layering content and verticals is now the key to search, but people seem to only think "search engine," he said. If you look recently, the company's Upshot blog perfectly illustrates his point, with search-driven news production that enables Yahoo to cover niches both in search and related content.
Local Is The Big Word
Among those layers of data, Seth cited "local" as being a major component nowadays. Local data queries account for 30% of all searches and 70% of those searches concern shopping, he noted. Quick reminder: earlier this year, Yahoo has been rumoured to be planning to buy Foursquare but the acquisition ended up being that of Indonesia's equivalent, called Koprol. At this point, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the company were to acquire a LBS company to support its new/enhanced search strategy.
In light of the information, it's easy to understand that the company's Infinite Browse feature is only one of the steps towards enhancing the search experience. Seth clarified that the Search Alliance was meant for Bing to provide the technical component of search powering, with Yahoo still bringing to the table the main component - i.e. search in itself. The partnership thus benefits both sides, he commented.
As far as market shares are concerned, he said that Yahoo was mostly "big" in Asia - Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong... -- but not top of the list in Europe. He stated that his intention by coming to Yahoo (he was previously with AOL) this year (in January) was not to grab small increases in market share "from 3 to five percent" but to come up with a strategy that would gain the company 15% at least.
Very ambitious. But Yahoo needs it - the man and the strategy.
Seth will be speaking at SES San Francisco, on the Search: Where to Next? panel, so make sure to stay tuned for more info.