Yahoo innovates in wake of Microsoft bid

Like a gone-to-pot husband ambushed by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Microsoft’s heavy hand of intervention has had Yahoo scrabbling to clean up its act and trying to remind itself, and the world, that it was once young and attractive.

Since Microsoft made its unsolicited bid, Yahoo has gone innovation crazy. Its improvements range from creative enhancements to bold advertising moves. In the first bucket, it has squarely targeted women with the launch of a new Web portal, Shine, in partnership with Hearst and Condé Nast; and enhanced photo-sharing site Flickr to include video.

In the second bucket, the moves have been bolder still: Yahoo acquired Web analytics firm IndexTools to better secure its own part of the metrics-driven marketplace; upgraded its mobile platform with new features, standing firmly behind the theory that mobile is the next big thing (and none of the big players currently has dominion there); and attempted to out­flank Microsoft by teaming up with Google to place Google’s AdSense advertising results next to search queries made on — just a trial, but significant nonetheless.

Yahoo is certainly making sure that marketers take notice of what it has to offer. The Flickr move in particular shows that Yahoo is searching its existing portfolio for more opportuni­ties to monetize content, while at the same time differentiating itself from Google-owned YouTube, by enforcing a 90-second limit on uploads. This ostensibly makes them “long photos,” but it of course doesn’t hurt that the majority of broadcast ads with viral ambitions come under the 90-second mark.

Whatever the outcome of Microsoft’s pursuit (now powered, as reports have it, by the might of News Corp.), the prey is be­coming increasingly attractive. It remains to be seen if Yahoo, like the husband who hopes a new leather jacket will make up for belly droop and nose hair, is too late.

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