Yahoo Unveils Five Year Plan to Narrow Gap With Google

19 May 2006

Several strategic "big bets" spread over the next five years will embrace new technologies and new ways to generate revenues, hopes Yahoo chairman/ceo Terry Semel.

These will also help the internet portal to close the "monetization" gap with deadly rival Google, Semel told the company's annual presentation to analysts on Wednesday.

Some observers liken Semel's task to that of Sisyphus, given Google's habit of moving the technological and marketing goalposts on what seems almost a daily basis.

Nonetheless, Semel believes that Yahoo's intention this fall to roll-out new technology for ranking search advertising by qualitative as well as quantitative data will enable it to catch up on its fleeter-footed rival.

Likewise the development of "social media". Or in plain English, the engagement of surfers so that they contribute content to - and spend more time with - Yahoo sites. Enthuses Semel: "We think it's a terrific area for growth for our company."

The portal sees social media as a way to differentiate its search service and gain market share. Svp of search and marketplace Jeff Weiner told the assembled moneymen that Yahoo is leveraging its social initiatives.

Much store is set by Answers, a service developed by Yahoo in Taiwan. This allows users to ask and answer each others' questions - a facility that during its Taiwanese pilot enabled Yahoo to turn the tables on Google, upping its market share to 65% and slashing the latter's slice from 50% to 35%.

Applied stateside, the user-fueled technology will provide answers to such questions as "what is the best sushi restaurant in Manhattan?"

Yahoo is also focused on "going beyond the browser" with an aggressive push into the mobile space, citing such devices as cellphones and PDAs. In fast-developing markets like India, such devices outnumber personal computers by two to one.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff