Yahoo Ramping Up Content Networks – But Scaling Back on RSS?

This week Yahoo has released some new
initiatives and polished up the design of existing content properties. Here is R/WW’s summary of the action, along with some commentary…

Yahoo TV re-design – and is Yahoo scaling back RSS?

Yahoo TV has had a re-design, giving it a liberal
sprinkling of Ajax and social Web features. I was interested to read Steve Rubel’s take
on this and other recent Yahoo re-designs, in which he claims that Yahoo is “backing away
from RSS”. He wrote:

“In the past few weeks Yahoo has rolled out three major new web sites – Yahoo! Food, Yahoo! Advertising and Yahoo! TV. They’re great sites, but none of them has
feeds. There’s a reason why – eyeballs.”

Of course, those three sites that Steve mentions are all very mainstream – and RSS is
still not anywhere near mass uptake. But Steve is right that Yahoo has been a leader over
the past couple of years in efforts to mainstream RSS, so it is a little disappointing
they aren’t continuing to push it in the likes of Y! TV.

RSS is already in MyYahoo, the new homepage released earlier this year, and in the
Yahoo Mail Beta. So I would’ve thought there are plenty of cross-linking and promotional
‘eyeball’ opportunities – e.g. a user subscribes to their Y! TV feeds in MyYahoo. I’ll
try and follow up with some folks in Yahoo to find out more about their current strategy
with RSS – perhaps they have found that RSS is getting very low uptake from the more
mainstream sites and so they don’t consider it worthwhile including at this point.

Brand Universe

In other news,
Variety is reporting
that Yahoo has a “brand universe” plan:

“[Yahoo] has identified more than 100 properties that are the most popular, or
fastest-growing, with its users and is building what it calls a “brand universe” Web site
around each one. Set to launch throughout 2007, they will bring content from throughout
Yahoo!’s network into one destination for fans.”

It’s not explained all that well in the Variety article, but basically this will be
like a custom Yahoo portal for external brands. An early example is a Yahoo-branded site
for Nintendo’s Wii, which includes “articles from
Yahoo! Games, fan pictures from photo site Flickr, purchase options from Yahoo! Shopping,
user questions and responses from Yahoo! Answers and links to outside articles from
bookmarking site Del.icio.us.”

What’s particularly interesting about this is that Yahoo won’t necessarily be
working with the brands
to get the content – i.e. it won’t necessarily be exclusive or licensed
content. Traditionally Yahoo has partnered with media sites, but (perhaps taking a bit of
a lead from popular Web 2.0 services like YouTube) it is now actively and freely
utilizing other peoples content. Probably without the legal issues YouTube has
though!

Mixd

Finally a product called Mixd came to public attention this week. It is is a group
mobile messaging tool for the youth market and is still in the experimental stages.
However Techcrunch managed to get a tip
off
and so the site has now been well publicized. Mixd seems like an interesting site
for its target market, but the current experimental nature of Mixd means there isn’t too
much to read into it from a high level perspective.

What do all of these things have in common?

All these announcements from Yahoo will remind people of the recent
internal memo
by Yahoo senior VP Brad Garlinghouse – dubbed the ‘Peanut Butter
Manifesto’ – in which he claimed that Yahoo as a company is unfocused and has too many product
lines that cross over. But there is a common thread here, which is that Yahoo is
continuing to pump out Web content networks (albeit with a slight question mark over RSS
in some properties now).

Yahoo is much more a content company than Microsoft or Google,
so all of the above news serves to reinforce that and remind us that Yahoo is keeping busy
building up its media network. Nothing sensational, but there are interesting developments here in terms of RSS and Yahoo using non-licensed content.

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