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Yahoo’s fight in mobile first world

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Yahoo’s business has always been about using the latest tech to capture people’s attention with interesting content. They were many people’s first real home page on the web.

Before search and social, you’d go to Yahoo to see links worth checking out. In the interim periods of change in consumer tech, they’ve adapted their product strategies to follow their model, with points of success and failure. In a recent visit to Yahoo’s Sunnyvale headquarters, we got a better look at how the company is adapting the mobile-first world.

Yahoo’s efforts in mobile over the last several years have focused on improving product by bringing in new talent and technology through acquisition. For instance, Yahoo News Digest,  aims to keep a broad audience informed with the top news of the day, just like the Yahoo home page before it. But the app’s updates are partially algorithmically written, reducing the need for human curators.

On the user experience front, company’s mobile team has cranked out  exciting apps that offer more pleasant ways to present the information and news people check every day. Yahoo VP of Design Albert Song says one of the most important facets of the team’s work is creating a design language that incorporates Apple’s “flat” iOS features and Google’s Material Design so as to feel native on major platforms, yet unique enough that users realize they’re in a Yahoo app.

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Looking across its offerings, Yahoo has hundreds of millions of people looking at content in these apps. That attention is valuable to advertisers — but less valuable than attention given on platforms where advertisers can target specific audiences.

That’s because Yahoo is fighting for attention and thus ad dollars, with social behemoths like Facebook. People check their favorite social feeds (and increasingly, messaging apps) on their phones tens of times a day, for minutes at a time. Because they already capture so much attention, these services can bundle in more kinds of content to get users to stay around longer.

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