I use My Yahoo! as a personal portal to browse headlines within the long list of RSS feeds I’ve set up. I find it’s easy to personalize and set up news feeds, weather, e-mail, team schedules, movie times, etc.
In all this talk of “universal search,” personalized portals like this (others include Netvibes and Pageflakes) take the theme to heart that various sources and formats of content can all be browsed in one place. As we’ve argued, this model should be examined by newspapers when forming online product models to battle print usage declines. It’s the whole “if you don’t do it, someone else will” argument (and many have).
As part of this personalization experience for AT&T broadband subscribers, the site has integrated a Yellowpages.com “module” which is basically a small local search widget that users can plant wherever they want on their My Yahoo! page. This is related to the recent move that replaced Yahoo! Local with Yellowpages.com as the official local search engine for AT&T broadband subscribers (AT&T and Yahoo! have a longstanding deal to offer broadband subscribers premium Yahoo! content including a specialized My Yahoo! page).
The widget is a nice addition and I’m likely to use it while I’m already pecking around that page for various things such as the score of today’s Red Sox game, this weekend’s weather, or what movies are playing at the pre-set theaters near me. My only complaint was that it was hard to find and was buried under a few menu items (Personalize > Content: Add Module > AT&T Yahoo! Services > Add Yellowpages.com).
A search done within the widget takes users directly to a Yellowpages.com list-view results page. This of course means additional traffic back to Yellowpages.com and more ROI potential for its advertisers. As such, this is the way IYPs should be thinking to drive traffic. A similar strategy is to launch and promote branded toolbars (which many IYPs have done), although this is a challenging proposition given limited tool bar real estate.
Other opportunities beginning to make themselves known include using their expanding ranks of video content to drive more traffic through blended search queries in popular search engines. Given the amount of upstream traffic IYPs receive from search engines, this should be considered.
Most major U.S. IYPs have great URLs (can you ask for anything better than “yellowpages.com”?) and strong brands, which amounts to a certain level of direct navigation traffic. But better SEO efforts and more toolbars, widgets and other hooks (see AgendizeMe) can drive even more users back to their sites, and to their advertisers.