Yahoo's homepage gets help from Facebook

Yahoo's homepage has gotten a makeover. Why? The website wants to be a place that people visit -- and stay on.

Though Yahoo’s shine has faded in recent years, Yahoo news, sports and entertainment sites are still some of the most popular destinations on the web. 

But it’s been losing ad dollars to competitors. Yahoo’s new homepage, in part, is supposed to address that. Part of Yahoo’s problem is “stickyness” or the time people spend on the site. In that respect, Facebook is eating Yahoo’s lunch, says Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivitol Research.

“Facebook reaches far more people and probably triple the cumalitive time, when you account for all the time people are on Facebook,” says Wieser.

The more time people spend on the site, the more ads it can serve up,  says Carlos Kirjner an analyst at Sanford Bernstein.

“The more the site owner can learn about your preferences and behaviors, they can put forward better ads and better content,” he says.

Yahoo thinks users will stay on the site longer if the news is “tailored” to them, said CEO Marissa Mayer in an interview on NBC’s Today Show.

“One of the things I like is this very personalized news feed down below, it’s infiniate, so you can keep scrolling forever,” Mayer said.

Mayer scrolled down a list of news headlines that appear in the center of the homepage and looks sort of like Facebook’s newsfeed. In fact, Yahoo teamed up with Facebook to update its hompage. When users log in with their Facebook account, they can see news stories, their friends like.

Carlos Kirjner says Yahoo’s been able forge partnerships in a tech environment that’s become increasingly adversarial. Earlier this year, it partnered with Google, which will start selling advertising for Yahoo. And its search engine is powered by Microsoft’s Bing.

“I think that is one of the advantages that Yahoo has, it is large enough to be an interesting opportunity,” says Kirjner, “but it’s small enough not to be seen as a threat.”  

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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