Yahoo!’s Search Direct May Leverage Search Retargeting Says SVP Seth

Yahoo Search DirectA couple of weeks ago, Yahoo! announced its new “Search Direct” product which “predicts search results as fast as a person types, character by character, and presents those results” among other features. Read more on the Y! corp blog.

Shashi Seth is the SVP of Search products at Yahoo!, Shashi Seth, discussed the implications of the announcement and its impact on display ads at his company. Why have you said that Yahoo!’s Search Direct is the convergence of search and branding? How will Search Direct meet the brand marketers critical need for scale?

SS: Search Direct is our first step in changing the landscape of search. As we do that, we will create a new canvas for the search experience, and then there will be many opportunities for search advertising and display advertising to come together. Search Direct creates a new canvas, and offers a new way for advertisers to fulfill their needs of brand affinity and performance advertising…it is the ultimate example of convergence between search and display. Yahoo! has a rich history creating ads with this type of convergence with Rich Ads in Search and Search Retargeting.

From your “seat” in the search world, what’s your take on the display advertising space today?

When I read a magazine like GQ, I find it fascinating to see the kind of rich, emotional ads that sort of define the reading experience of a magazine like that. These ads fit in and actually become part of the content. In fact, these magazines would not be very interesting if not for that experience. I think online display advertising has such great potential but it needs to bring that same kind of creativity and emotional appeal that we see from ads in slick magazines and TV shows. It needs to continuously evolve to impress and engage consumers behaviors on the web and mobile devices.

Looking, in particular, at Yahoo!’s search retargeting efforts for display across the Yahoo! ad network, do you see Search Direct as an extension of this offering? Is search retargeting of interest to your product development plans?

Search retargeting brings the ability to connect the dots between search advertising, which is user intent driven, and display advertising which is creative and emotional in nature. Search Direct may be leverage search retargeting, or dynamic ads or even a version of our Rich Ads in Search. Truth is, we’re still working on the actual implementation of ads in Search Direct but we’ll be considering all possibilities. Bottom line is that Search Retargeting gives us the ability to bring high performance (display) advertising to pages other than Search Results Pages (SRPs).

How will your search partnership with Microsoft impact Search Direct?

While Microsoft’s search platform powers certain back-end functions for us, Yahoo! continues to drive technology innovation with the enhanced Yahoo! Search experience that surrounds the listings themselves, which includes Search Direct, as well as Quick Apps, rich results, Search Assist suggestions, site filters, related topic suggestions, and more to come. In addition, we supplement Microsoft’s primary back-end algorithm with Yahoo!’s own deep science for prioritizing relevant real-time and rich content. Of course, we always work closely with our partners at Microsoft to share feedback, identify needs, and prioritize upcoming enhancements to the back-end algorithm for relevancy, comprehensiveness, freshness and performance of listings.

Any thoughts on how and when Search Direct inventory might be made available – directly sold by the Yahoo! media team -through Right Media Exchange?

We are still experimenting and finalizing the exact details – we don’t have any details yet for you on this topic but we’ll keep you posted.

By John Ebbert

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