In the final part of our five part interview with Jeff Dossett, Yahoo’s senior VP of audience and head of the Santa Monica office, we talk about the biggest picture issues: The meaning of the Yahoo brand, the relevance of a portal with a home page, and whether digitally savvy audiences are still interested in what his company has to offer.
For more on Dossett, read the introduction to part one of our interview. Read part two here, part three here, and part four here.
Ben Fritz: Going forward, when you think about “What is Yahoo?” and/or “What is Yahoo content?” do you see the old portal model where people come to a homepage and you can shoot them all around as something that’s becoming less and less important? The “I am a Yahoo user, I go to Yahoo.com, I go to Yahoo Mail, I go to Yahoo News,” versus “I come into it a million different ways?”
Jeff Dossett: Great question. I think the front page will continue for many years to be an essential experience for Yahoo users. It’s where we get to reflect our understanding of a broad set of content and information and service needs and try to curate that experience. Try to find the best: try to make it easier for people to find the information and services and experiences that matter most to them.
I do think the front page or the homepage experience will evolve. I think it will evolve in two key ways. One is, I think that we’ll improve our ability to present a more relevant front page experience as an essential starting point to Yahoo users. We’ll be able to reflect what we know about you and your interests and your experience on the network, and tune the content experience to your particular needs. That’s one thing. Sort of, again, the audience-segment-centric position to deliver the best, most relevant content experience to each and every user.
The other is that Yahoo has clearly, strongly embraced the power of openness. We want to make it easier for consumers to make sense of the Internet, for them, in a way that’s relevant to them, and to the extent that there are information sources or services that are important to users that exist outside of the Yahoo network, we’d like to make it easier for them to bring them into the experience, as we’ve had traditionally in experiences like My Yahoo.
So I think you’ll see the front page as a starting point evolve to be more personally relevant and more customizable, including the inclusion of experiences that are currently thought of as outside the Yahoo experience.
We have begun to communicate a little bit more broadly about our plans for the evolution of the Yahoo homepage. “More open, more social, and more relevant” are our three key themes, and I think it’s an essential part, because with all of the world’s information available online, the burden on a consumer to find and discover the information and services important to them, that complexity is actually increasing right now, and Yahoo has traditionally helped people discover and interact with the content and services that are most important to them. I think that will continue to be one of the key elements of differentiation and the value that we bring to online consumers, so we’ll definitely do that.
At the same time, there are many different entry points into the network. There are some people who are news junkies, they just love the news, and that’s really the right and most appropriate starting point for them, and we’ll want to serve them as well. OMG for others. We think holistic, and we’re not dependent on the front page, but we recognize the value it plays in helping simplify the complexity of the richness of the Internet.
BF: And that idea of Yahoo as an editor in a sense, as opposed to, for people who are very tech-savvy, the idea of “I get my RSS feeds, and I have everything, and nobody tells me what I want?” It sounds like you’re saying there’s still a lot of value, at least for some audiences, in that Yahoo’s going to tell you “Here’s ten things that you should see,” or otherwise present the user with information that they might not have asked for.