Category Archives: Yahoo!

As you can probably guess, I’m a big fan of My Yahoo! And use it as the primary way I keep up with RSS feeds and all sorts of other content. I love it because I can quickly see all my news at a glance in a format of my own choosing. And lots of people agree, its the number one RSS aggregator out there. But, even though over 25 million people use My Yahoo! we’ve wanted to take RSS to an even bigger audience.

Enter Yahoo! Mail. Tonight we are launching a full post rss reader in the new Yahoo Mail beta. If you are in the beta, you’ll automatically get the new features.

RSS in mail makes perfect sense for a few reasons: 1) people already spend a lot of time in their Mail experience, why shouldn’t personally relevant content be there too 2) While you read RSS you are probably gonna want to forward good stuff you find 3) Hundreds of millions of users use Yahoo Mail, so if we want to reach the masses, we need to go where they are.

And, its cool to realize that we are the first major webmail service to offer an RSS reader integrated into the experience.

If you are in the beta check it out, if you are not yet I think they are planning on adding more users soon, so be sure that you are on the waiting list.

In the mean time though, I thought I’d share some screenshots of what it looks like.

The folder area on the new Yahoo Mail, showing the new RSS Feeds
(it uses the same subscriptions you’ve set up on My Yahoo! or if you don’t use My, you can add feeds here, also notice the little gleam next to a feed if there’s new content since you last checked)

A view of how Scripting News looks in the RSS reader
(notice the full posts, and notice how it realizes the first post is new and the others are marked as “Previously Viewed Posts” with a subtle grey color)

We’ve been working on this for a long time, and its finally nice to share it with you. Overall, its another great step in bringing RSS to the masses. We already have a list of things we want to do next, but I can’t wait for the feedback to start coming in from the beta testers.

(BTW, it uses the same RSS backend as My Yahoo, so if you are already pinging us and if you feed is already in My Yahoo, it’ll work just fine in Mail.)

UPDATE: Be sure to read my post about the new Yahoo! Alerts RSS integration, which we also launched.

You may have caught the news yesterday that Yahoo Publisher Network has added support for ads in RSS feeds. If you are a YPN beta user, you can now (in addition to having ads on your blog or site) include ads within your full post RSS feed.

This makes me think about the broader question I get asked a lot: “how do I make money with my RSS feed?”. I see that the answer is simple, but it might not be what you expect.

There are a few different ways that you can use RSS to build your business (and its not all about ads)…

  • The Golden Rule: Your feed IS ALREADY an ad
    Just like an email subscription, or a direct-mail piece, your RSS feed allows your brand name, your content, your services to be delivered right into people’s “homes”- their home pages, their email box, or their RSS reader. If you are blogger, your feed is an ad for you, your thoughts & skills – if you are a bigger company – it makes sure that people see whatever it is that you are good at, on a regular basis. It is a great way to develop a “communication channel” to people who want to hear what you have to say. Be sure to remember this as you seek to monetize your feeds further, there’s a balance you are striking with your consumers – be sure to respect them or you’re feed will be in the trash bin.
  • Model #1: RSS as a Traffic Driver
    Most people publishing RSS today use it as way to get people to come back to their site regularly and they already know how to monetize traffic on their site. RSS is a way to convert your once-in-a-while visitors into repeat daily visitors. You give up headlines and summaries (the model popularized by My Yahoo!) and people see the headlines every day and click through when they see articles of interest. You see increased traffic from these users, and your page views per user and revenue per user go up. This model is used most by traditional publishers/media companies.
  • Model #2: Commerce Feeds
    To me, this is one of the most interesting new areas for RSS. Traditional and upcoming commerce sites are using RSS as a way to get new products, deals of the day, or other interesting commerce in front of users regularly. Surprisingly, consumers are eating this up. One of the most popular modules on My Yahoo is woot! – the deal of the day RSS feed – every day they put a new product on sale through the feed, interested people click the link and buy the products. Some other great examples: Ben’s Bargains, Y! Shopping new DVD releases and iTunes top sellers. Consumers looking to buy a category of stuff get a great experience and you get sales. This model is used most by commerce companies with large product catalogs or small deal-focused companies.
  • Model #3: Full post RSS feeds with ads.
    This is a new area where we all have a lot to learn. The question is this: what if all of your content was consumed off of your site, how would you monetize it then? RSS allows you to publish your entire blog post or your whole news story and let consumers read that in their full-post reader, on their mobile device or wherever. To the user, they get the ability to read offline and to have a uniform presentation. Some people say that in the future all content will be syndicated this way – others say its untenable. So what a lot of people are trying is to ship ads along with the content. Some sites actually syndicate the same ads that appear on their site, some sell sponsorships to a feed and others are using contextual advertising right in the feed. Support for contextual advertising in feeds is what the Yahoo Publisher Network just launched. They are just starting with bloggers, but you add a few simple lines of HTML to your blog’s RSS template and voila! you are making money on your full post feed. I’ve got contextual YPN ads running in my feed as well, so if you read me in a full-post reader, check-em out. This model is mostly used by bloggers (who mostly publish full text) and a few blogger-like media sites like Weblogs.com and Gawker media’s properties.

So when you take a look at it, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to building your business with RSS. One thing is for sure – if you are thinking about doing all the models at once, you’ve got it wrong. Look for the model that meets your needs and focus on making it successful. If you are Purina and are focusing on RSS feeds with Pet Tips, you clearly are following the golden rule: your feed itself is the ad. To try to add in more ads wouldn’t make sense, could dilute your brand message and isn’t focused on your core objectives. If you are a small topical publication, maybe you want to focus on contextual ads as your best way to monetize your content and allow users to consume it wherever. And maybe if you are a large media company, model #1 suits you just fine.

So take the time, focus on your goals and your brand image, try some things and remember that you and the user are building a daily relationship – don’t violate their trust and end up in the “unsubscribe” bin.

Jeremy Zawodny posted (in reaction to Reading the Google Tea Leaves) his opinion that Google is building Yahoo 2.0.:

it’s as if someone decided to re-invent more and more of Yahoo’s popular services in random order, giving them a fresh user interface, less historical baggage, and usually one feature that really stands out (such as Gmail’s storage limit or Google Talk’s use of Jabber).

Dave Winer responded quite astutely:

Very clever, and there’s a lot of truth to it, but watch out, that’s not a very good place to be. That’s how Microsoft came to dominate the PC software industry…. It’s better to produce your own 2.0s…

I really look at the whole thing another way. Google is replaying Yahoo’s playbook circa 1996. Back then, we simply looked at what people were searching for and then built services that they wanted. Filo called the query logs “our to-do list”.

I tend to think that we’ve got a head start in understanding users and how they react to the way we roll out new features. We got to be the #1 way that people read RSS by knowing how the masses wanted to subscribe to new info, we broke convention in the way RSS was consumed (it doesn’t have to only be in a mail metaphor) and it paid off for us.

If Google really is trying to do what we did 10 years ago, of course they are gonna try to be “Yahoo done better” and that’s something to really watch out for. Yahoo! Maps was a leading product and Google launched Yahoo Maps 2.o – and you all loved it. That sucked for Yahoo. Now we launched a better maps, but we should have launched the new Yahoo Maps before they did.

So Dave – you are right. If Yahoo’s gonna win, we need to take our 10 years of experience and launch our own Yahoo 2.0 well before MSFT and GOOG know what’s happening.

The Yahoo! Maps team just released a new beta (and a great new set of Maps APIs) that is very cool.

At first, I wasn’t sure about the idea of doing some stuff using AJAX and a big chunk using flash, but after using it for a while, I’ve really grown to like it. It’s a HUGE improvement over old Yahoo Maps (and I really liked Y! Maps before). This release finally helps bring us up to snuff with the interactivity that GMaps had and then adds a bunch on top. I tried it on Mac Safari and Win IE and both worked well for me.

Some of my favorite things:

  • Point-to-point-to-point driving directions. Instead of just point A to Point B, you can set up a route (great for “lets grab lunch then go to the amusement park” type stuff)
  • integrated local search – type any search term and “find on map”. You can also browse through stuff. In old maps they used to call this “SmartView”, but they’ve integrated this with the new Y! Local, so the data is even better.
  • The APIs – now you can embed a map right into your page (only the other guy’s APIs used to let you do that). And beyond simple integration, you can add all sorts of controls to your site to control the map as well.
  • You can actually bookmark a map. Drag around the map, find your spot and you can bookmark it where you left off (also can email it too). I dragged my map all the way to Chicago where my family lives, zoomed in and bookmarked it. Those other guys can’t do that!
  • Drag, zoom, scroll -all the interactivity is there that you’d expect. use your mouse scroll wheel to zoom; drag the map; use that little box in teh corner to move pretty far away. nicely done.

The APIs look really robust, I’m not a wiz like other folks, but I was able to quickly embed this map for where I work. Drag it around; click on the marker to see my picture. Kinda fun (if I could do this so easily, I hope people with talent can do some cooler mashups).

#mapContainer { height: 250px; width: 370px; border:1px solid gray;}

// Capture the user mouse-click and expand the SmartWindow
function onSmartWinEvent() {
var words = “
Scott at Yahoo!
“;
marker.openSmartWindow(words);
}
// Create a lat/lon object
var myPoint = new YGeoPoint(37.416384, -122.024853);
// Create a map object
var map = new YMap(document.getElementById(‘mapContainer’));
// Display the map centered on a latitude and longitude
map.drawZoomAndCenter(myPoint, 3);
// Create a marker positioned at a lat/lon
var marker = new YMarker(myPoint);
// Add a label to the marker
marker.addLabel(“Me“);
// Call onSmartWinEvent when the user clicks on the marker
YEvent.Capture(marker, EventsList.MouseClick, onSmartWinEvent);
// Display the marker
map.addOverlay(marker);

var navWidget = new NavigatorWidget();
// Add the Navigator Widget to the map and display it
map.addWidget(navWidget);

Congrats to the Maps team. Be sure to check out their blog post and they have a mailing list going for comments.

UPDATE: So I guess there are people doing smarter things than my silly map. Jeremy blogs about a demo I saw floating around at work. Seems like a bunch of folks like Chad Dickerson, Ed Ho and a bunch of others did a great events viewer. Toni did a fun silicon valley map, and it oddly places the center of the map very near to yahoo. 😉

John Furrier at podtech.net interviewed me last week at BlogOn for his InfoTalk series.

We actually cover a pretty wide variety of stuff about RSS from how to make it easier, to my favorite Cub Scout RSS feed, and on to our research.

I usually hate how my voice sounds on these sort of things, but I managed to not cringe when I first hit play on this, if you’ve got 17 minutes, check it out.

If you are reading this, it is likely that you are interested in some of the work we are doing at Yahoo! in the RSS space. We’ve got an opening for an experienced, dedicated, bright product manager who wants to make great things happen here at Yahoo!. The official job description is below, the best way to submit a resume is by using the online submission form on the Careers at Yahoo! listing for this job.

UPDATE: It seems that people are having a problem with the online site. I think the submssion form doesn’t like deep links. You can email me at scottg AT yahoo-inc DOT com.

Yahoo! has been at the forefront of the RSS revolution, both publishing millions of feeds and being the single biggest destination for RSS consumption, with millions of users reading feeds on My Yahoo! everyday. We’re looking for an engergetic and results-oriented product manager to help properties around Yahoo! take advantage of the possibilities created by RSS, Atom and open content in the Web 2.0 world. As a Product Manager for RSS, you will work directly with engineering, design and other teams around Yahoo! to define and execute these integrations.

 

The right candidate will have at least 3-5 years of product management experience online. You’ll have familiarity with the competitive landscape; strong organizational skills; a hands-on attitude; an amazing attention to details and the ability to work across a variety of teams. Experience building and working on platforms a plus. Excellent written and verbal communication skills, knowledge of internet standards, and a BA/BS are required.

If you meet the criteria (and please make sure you do) we look forward to hearing from you.

Email me at scottg AT yahoo-inc DOT com.

It’s been a busy day for social media at Yahoo! Following on the heels of our RSS research we’re launching three four cool new things on Yahoo! today.

  • Yahoo! Podcasts (Y! Next Release) – this early test release starts off with a podcast directory (with tags and ratings/reviews) and a search engine to help you find all the podcasts out there and subscribe using iTunes or YME. The backend of this is integrated with the RSS database at Yahoo, so if your podcast isn’t there, be sure to add it to My Yahoo and ping blo.gs to let them know when there’s an update to your feed. There’s more exciting stuff coming from this team, so be sure to keep an eye out.
  • Blog results on News Search beta – do a search on Yahoo! News search and you’ll see that results from the blogosphere appear on the left side. It’s still beta and it looks like there’s a bit of improving to be done, but my search on Supreme Court Nominee Miers returned some perfect blog results on the right. Again, this is hooked into the RSS database at Yahoo!, so add your feed to MyY! and be sure to ping blo.gs to let them know when you’ve updated.
  • Themes on 360 – As a more advanced user I love the idea of tweaking CSS and getting my blog just right, but for everyone else, 360 just launched Themes to make it easy to pick from a bunch of themes (kinda like you can do on My Y!).
  • Also, 360 launched a “blog this” toolbar button on Y! toolbar. I haven’t tried it yet, but I really like the WP bookmarklet I use on this blog, so I’m assuming that’ll be all good too.

Congrats to all 3 teams and I look forward to seeing how these products evolve and get even better over time.

After getting back from all the Web 2.0 hubbub, I’ve finally been able to dig into what people have been saying about the RSS research that my team did. It’s always amazing to see how people pick up on these things and what people focus on.

Scoble wrote:

Of the big three companies (Google/Microsoft/Yahoo) Yahoo is definitely getting RSS the best…It’s suprising to me that the big companies still aren’t taking RSS totally seriously. Yeah, Microsoft is putting RSS all over the place. Yeah, you can spit out MSN Searches via RSS. Which, actually, is pretty advanced and interesting. But Yahoo is going further.

Thanks Robert. But I do disagree about one point: I think that the upward climb in RSS isn’t gonna come from the very valuable tech adopters, but from the masses. The “unaware RSS users” look just like the rest of the internet population and they love the benefit of pulling this stuff together from all over the web.

Tom Markiewicz wrote:

This is the first RSS study I’ve seen the finally takes into account the great mass of people who are actually using or have seen RSS, but don’t know it…The fact that 12% of users are aware of RSS is actually a great sign….The best part is this number will only increase.

Tom, I’m not sure that awareness of RSS is all that important and I don’t think that number should increase. My mom shouldn’t care about XML or RSS, but should should care about tracking what she cares about.

Steve Rubel, said RSS Needs to Become Seamless:

RSS (with or without MP3 enclosures) has to become seamless before it becomes useful to the masses. Even Google hasn’t mastered that yet. I am using Google’s personal page to access my favorite feeds and I was disappointed to see there’s still quite a bit of a learning curve for the average bear.

Steve, we gotta get you using My Yahoo! for that. And I agree that we as an industry need to make it easier.

Niall wrote:

The biggest surprise to me was the value of the browsable feed in each tool’s built-in listing. Blog authors should be aware of their placement within such listings and perhaps consider a paid listing for increased subscriptions.

I’m not sure how I feel about paid placement for RSS feeds in readers. I hope that when this does finally happen, we all take the lead from how the search industry has done it: seperate and clearly marked as sponsored content. Jeremy has a different take.

Alex Barnett tries to extrapolate the data:

If you’re only going to read one sentence of this post and have the remotest interest in RSS, then take this away with you: the number of RSS users in the UK and US is now at a staggering 72.8 million…worldwide this is 275 million (see estimate details below).

Staggering if you think about it that way. Dunno if it holds up, but the logic makes sense. This is big and only getting bigger. And Alex makes the great point that this research is US only and that we really need data outside the US (My Yahoo! RSS is already in over 15 countries, but the data doesn’t cover that)

Last point about XML buttons. Sean Bonner said it simply:

Not only do those orange XML buttons not work, it actually makes people run away from your site.

Other coverage:

UPDATE: Here’s a couple more I missed:

My team at Yahoo! recently partnered with Ipsos Insight on research into how many people on the Internet are using RSS (whether or not they know the “RSS” term) and how they are using it. We presented this research at our Web 2.0 party and then posted it online at our Publisher’s Guide to RSS (it’s over on the right side).

I was happy to see that much of the research confirmed what a lot of us already felt:

  • Only 12% of the internet population has heard the term RSS
  • Only 4% of the population has heard of AND uses RSS
  • 27% of the internet population uses RSS but doesn’t know that its called RSS.

After hearing all of this at the event Bob Wyman asked “we’re not Yahoo!, what advice can you give us based on this research?”. This research confirms other research I’ve seen and what I’ve said for a long time: consumers care about the benefits of RSS, not the technology. Focus your message on what your service does for consumers, not how it does it.

There’s tons more great info in the research so be sure to check it out, but a few more highlights:

  • My Yahoo! was the #1 way that “unaware” users used RSS (no surprise)
  • Among “aware RSS users” – the people “in the know” – My Yahoo! was also the #1 RSS reader! (a bit of a surprise with all the talk of other aggregators)
  • And about that orange XML button? Only 4% of the internet population ever clicked on it and half of those people said they either left the site or forgot what they did afterwards. We’ve got to make this easier for folks – we are losing 1/2 of the users who WANT to subscribe to content.
  • So how do people add content to their reader?
    • Over 50% use the list that comes with their aggregator. So if you are publishing feeds, you better make sure you are in everyone’s search index.
    • 27% used Add to My Yahoo! buttons to add feeds (that’s great for Yahoo! and jives with what we know: over 8 million web pages have that button on it already) but I still think there can be an more easy, open industry-wide way to do this better.

My hope is that this research can get out there to publishers and to other tech/rss companies and we can all begin to really take RSS to the next wave. Yahoo!’s been aggregating RSS for almost two years and other companies for even longer than that. Now as more companies are joining the party, we all need to come together and figure out how to take this to tens and hundreds of millions of users…

Very cool news tonight…we announced that the upcoming.org team is now part of Yahoo. More info is on the search blog and on Andy’s waxy.org.

At work we talk a lot about how media is fundamentally shifting to social media. The more we can put power in the hands of the community and put consumers at the center of the experience, the more rich and interesting the experience can be. The more that people use the services, the better they become. Upcoming is just that kind of service and I can’t wait to see how this integrates with Yahoo Local over time.

Congrats to the local team and to Andy, Gordon and Leonard. Welcome aboard!