Yahoo! is making a bid for social media relevance by getting closer to Twitter. The troubled search firm says it plans to go further than Google or Bing and do more than add Twitter to search results.
I have no idea if this will pan out for Yahoo. But what is clear is that Twitter is an integral part of Yahoo’s plan to turn itself into a social media hub so that anyone with a Yahoo! ID can update multiple social networks simultaneously. There is talk of deals with MySpace and LinkedIn as well. They are throwing it all in.
There are clear parallels with Google and its efforts to socialise itself with Google Buzz (while we are on Buzz why did Google choose that name when Yahoo already has Yahoo Buzz?). Both search firms want the search traffic, but they want more than that: they want the social media engagement as well. They want to put themselves at the centre of your (yes you) social media universe.
Bryan Lamkin, senior vice president, consumer products group, Yahoo! couldn’t be any clearer about this:
“We’re turning the key to the online social universe — you will find the most personally relevant experiences through Yahoo. We’re also simplifying people’s lives by bringing their social worlds — and the world — together for easy access.”
Yahoo! has already tied with Facebook and the Twitter deal, which will see Yahoo! pay undisclosed millions to the microblogging firm, should be done by December.
So what exactly Yahoo! planning with its 140 character deal? Well in the press release announcing the deal Yahoo says the partnership it says it includes three primary elements:
1) People will be able to access their personal Twitter feeds across Yahoo!’s many products and properties, including the homepage, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Sports, and others, letting them check in more easily on what’s happening with the people and things they care about while on Yahoo!.
2) People will be able to update their Twitter status and share content from Yahoo! in their Twitter stream, so they can easily share their Yahoo! experiences with their friends and followers on Twitter.
3) Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! media properties like News, Finance, Entertainment, and Sports will include real-time public Twitter updates across a variety of topics. Yahoo! Search users will immediately see real-time Twitter results today; go to Yahoo! and try it out.
One question that crops up is this: what does this mean for Twitter money making plans? Sure it is getting cash for its data, but Yahoo!, Bing and Google are doing these deals because they think they can monetize it around their advertising.
Yahoo is clear in its release about this issue. It says that it will use the Twitter integration to “drive deeper user engagement, and create new and compelling opportunities for developers, advertisers, and publishers”.
See all about money. Twitter is working on an own ad platform of its own and Anamitra Banerji, head of monetization at Twitter, has told the US IAB that “he is concerned that some of the external Twitter ad platforms may be doing damage to the Twitter experience”. Yeah, that and future revenues.
There is a weird schizophrenic thing going on at Twitter. It needs to make money as it grows and burns cash and it is doing that with these partnerships, but clearly there is a concern within Twitter itself of how these deals might “damage” its own efforts to generate cash.
There is an awful lot riding on Twitter. It’s own hopes of expansion and also those of rivals. For Yahoo! this socialisation feels like a chance to regain relevance. Although as someone who never uses it I’m really not sure how that is going to pan out.