Bartz: Yahoo developing content optimization service

The technology would help Web publishers personalize their content to visitors

Yahoo is developing technology to help publishers personalize their websites, in much the same way that it helps them to populate their sites with ads, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said on Tuesday.

"We're looking at helping people manage their content," Bartz said at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, during a keynote appearance in which she was interviewed on stage by conference co-chairman John Battelle.

When Battelle asked her if the content management service she was describing existed as a product already, she answered that it doesn't. Once it's ready, Yahoo will be able to help Web publishers with both ads and content, she said.

The "content optimization" tool would focus on helping publishers personalize their content offerings and target it better for their site visitors, a process that requires automation, algorithms and data crunching at a scale that can't be done manually, she said.

For example, Yahoo serves up 6 million variations of its home page every day, varying the content it displays and the placement of items, based on what it determines will be the best experience for different users, she said.

Part of that knowledge comes from what Yahoo knows about signed-in users, from machine-learning insights and, also, from human-driven editorial decisions, Bartz said.

To be a successful content provider, Web publishers need to strive for "intense personalization," and one thing that hurt Yahoo was that it kept its content pages "static too long," she said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Yahoo announced new and enhanced local search and social media tools and features, including broader integration with Twitter and Zynga, a new beta version of Yahoo Messenger with more social-networking capabilities and local search improvements.

Yahoo also announced a program called Local Offers, in which Yahoo will aggregate offers, coupons and special deals from local merchants through partners including Groupon, LivingSocial, DealOn, Zozi, Tippr, and Valpak.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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