Forget the buzz about Microsoft acquiring Yahoo. This week the search titan wants the world's attention on Yahoo Buzz, an extension to Yahoo.com that promises to deliver the most interesting and relevant content from Web sites. The new tool is currently in beta.
In true social-networking style, Yahoo Buzz measures consumer votes and search patterns to identify interesting and timely stories and videos from large news sources as well as niche blogs around the Web. Top stories are then given primary consideration for placement on Yahoo.com.
What's the Buzz?
Yahoo Buzz can highlight anything -- a major news event, an intriguing video or image, or an interesting blog post -- and instead of editors, real people vote and search for their favorite stories to determine the top-rated content.
Yahoo Buzz ranks the most popular content of the moment by combining votes with search popularity to give a story a Buzz Score. Yahoo said it is creating a lens on what people are most interested in to enhance relevance on Yahoo.com and help publishers deliver their best content to Yahoo's 500 million-plus users.
Yahoo is aiming to build on its recent successes in improving the Yahoo.com home page. According to the company, consumer engagement with the home page has increased nearly 20 percent year over year. Yahoo sees this as evidence that continuing to open up and provide consumers with direct links to third-party publishers keeps people coming back to Yahoo.
A Boon for Publishers?
Currently, Yahoo Buzz includes content from nearly 100 publishers, each of which has a "badge" that lets readers vote and submit stories to Buzz in real-time. Stories with the highest Buzz Scores will be highlighted through direct links to the publishers' sites from buzz.yahoo.com and submitted to Yahoo.com's editors for possible coverage on the Yahoo homepage. Yahoo allows users to submit Buzz stories to social news sites like delicious, Digg, Facebook, Propeller, Reddit and Stumbleupon.
As Yahoo Buzz evolves, the company said it will form the basis for an open ecosystem of publishers, advertisers and consumers. Yahoo plans to develop this ecosystem by building out new syndication and monetization tools that let publishers share relevant content, connect to more advertisers and reach a broader audience. Over time, Yahoo said it expects this to extend into a content exchange that connects owners of content with distributors of traffic.
Is Yahoo a Johnny-Come-Lately?
Yahoo Buzz is an extension of what Yahoo has been doing for years with its Yahoo Buzz Index, a chart of the top searches among various content categories updated each weekday, according to Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
Historically, Sterling said, people have demonstrated heavy interest in discovering and reading the most popular stories. In fact, he noted, Digg has become known for its content-voting concept, and MySpace and AOL are also on the bandwagon. Ask just recently launched its version of a buzz-worthy news site.
Google does not offer a comparable service, though Google News does display the most popular stories from 4,500 news sources updated continuously based on, among other things, how often and on what sites a story appears online.
"The Yahoo Buzz site may seem like a Johnny-come-lately to the party, but Yahoo has been doing a version of this as long or longer than anybody. This is just a more formalized presentation of it," Sterling said. "This is a reminder that Yahoo is a very powerful site. Everybody sees them as a wounded animal, but it's still hugely top of mind for people and very powerful."