Yahoo aims for consistency with site redesign

The company is pitching advertisers with two new types of units

The landing page for Yahoo's recently redesigned music site.
The landing page for Yahoo's recently redesigned music site.

Yahoo has redesigned its Sports, Movies, Music, TV, omg, Games and Weather sites with a more consistent look and some personalized tools, the company said Tuesday.

Yahoo is positioning the sites' redesign, described in a blog post, as a way to demonstrate value to users, partly through offering personalized tools like improved tracking of people's games history, "so you can get back to your favorite ones faster," the company said.

With the redesign Yahoo is also making a pitch to advertisers. Previously the aforementioned sites did have display advertising, but under Tuesday's changes stream ads will now also appear in shaded gray boxes alongside the sites' news and media content. So too will Yahoo's billboard ads, which offer interactive content like links for purchasing movie tickets. Yahoo is now placing two new types of ads across several of its sites as part of a redesign announced Tuesday.

For the first time the company will be placing its stream and billboard ads across multiple site properties that have been redesigned to appear more consistent and offer more personalization to users, said a spokeswoman.

Yahoo announced stream ads in April as a way to inject what the company calls "complementary" and "unobtrusive" advertising into the content stream -- similar to the way sites like Facebook, Twitter and now Tumblr drop promotional content into users' feeds. The advertising format was introduced following the introduction of Yahoo's news stream in February.

More stream ads across Yahoo's sites are likely on the way. "This is an exciting step forward as we continue to launch more personalized, immersive advertising opportunities that are consistent across Yahoo, as well as across desktop, tablet and mobile," the company said Tuesday.

Yahoo's stream ads are supported across the desktop, mobile web and tablet, and the Yahoo app.

Yahoo, once seen as one of Silicon Valley's most innovative Internet companies, has struggled in recent years to remain relevant with the rise of tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

But while redesigning its sites to make them appear more consistent and provide more predictive tools is smart from an end user perspective, it would have been even smarter three years ago, said Erik Gordon, of the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

Yahoo is still playing catch-up and has yet to make any major creative leaps forward since Marissa Mayer took the helm as CEO in July 2012, he said.

Tuesday's redesign will probably not bring in any new users, but it could help to keep existing users from jumping ship, Gordon said, characterizing the redesign as a "better late than never" change.

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In addition to attracting new users, advertising is another challenge for Yahoo as Google and Facebook's ad networks have grown. The company saw mixed results in online advertising during its most recent quarter. Display advertising fell by 11 percent though search advertising rose by 5 percent.

Yahoo announced its acquisition of the blogging site Tumblr in May, providing the company with a bevy of younger users -- and a new platform ripe for monetization. Ads were brought to Tumblr users' feeds on the desktop 10 days after Yahoo's purchase was announced.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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