Yahoo CEO’s Plans Coincide With Google’s Privacy Policy Change

Yahoo needs unified platform, says analyst

Yahoo’s “most underrated, underappreciated and underused asset” is its data, said CEO Scott Thompson during the company’s earnings call yesterday.

Elaborating, Thompson said data could help Yahoo personalize the user experience across Yahoo’s properties, leading to increased time spent on those properties and improved performance numbers for Yahoo’s advertisers. “Nobody’s done that yet on the Web,” he said.

However, roughly an hour before Thompson’s statement, Google announced plans that will consolidate its privacy policies and allow the company to link user data across properties for “a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” wrote Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, in a company blog post.

Karsten Weide, an analyst at IDC, said that while the companies’ plans mirror each other, he doesn’t expect Thompson’s agenda to dramatically improve Yahoo’s overall business.

“I think it’ll improve targeting and make for a better advertising product, but I don’t really see how it could turn the tables around,” Weide said. “The primary problem for Yahoo is social. There needs to be something like [a Yahoo version of the Google+ social platform that could connect Yahoo's services].” Google has promoted Google+ as a social layer threading its various products as opposed to a stand-alone property.

Weide said Yahoo has been working on a unified platform for at least two years but of late has been silent about its plans. “I haven’t really heard anything out of them for a long time about this project, so I don’t really know where they are. The fact that they’re so quiet about it tells me that it’s not something that’s about to leave the pipeline,” he said, adding that Google’s announcement would likely bring Yahoo’s platform plans to the company’s forefront.

Yahoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans.