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7/21/2009
06:58 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Yahoo Redesigns Homepage, But Not Enough

With better than expected second quarter earnings, a new homepage, and renewed rumors of an impending Microsoft deal, Yahoo appears to be getting back on its feet.

With better than expected second quarter earnings, a new homepage, and renewed rumors of an impending Microsoft deal, Yahoo appears to be getting back on its feet.Yahoo is wisely making personalization the core of its homepage makeover.

The new homepage is now available in the U.S. and is coming to France, India, and the U.K., as well as to mobile devices, in the near future.

"By focusing on what people have told us they want, our new homepage is designed to help them stay on top of what is going on in their world, and in the rest of the world," said Ari Balogh, EVP of products and CTO, in a statement.

Yet, a visit to the new homepage reveals that Yahoo still has a problem: advertising. There's a display ad on the new homepage. And when you click on any of the apps in the "My Favorites" column, you're confronted by another display ad.

Are ads what people told Yahoo they want?

Perhaps Yahoo sees it that way. But that's not personalization. It's advertising.

Google's iGoogle page doesn't have advertising. Yahoo's My Yahoo homepage offers similar ad-free customization. But the Yahoo homepage serves Yahoo more than the user.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has acknowledged that Yahoo has problem with excessive ads. According to ZDNet's account of a Yahoo investor call, Bartz said that Yahoo is looking for ways to cut frequent, annoying ads that damage the company's brand.

She ought to do more. Yahoo still feels like it's trying to sell me something. Google is different, even if it's in the same business. It feels like a service rather than a pitch. Google has learned how to restrain its commercial impulse. Yahoo hasn't quite figured that out.

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