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Yahoo Tech Channel Taking on CNET

Yahoo Tech Channel Taking on CNET

Some time ago, Yahoo! hired away Patrick Houston from CNET to launch a CNET-like consumer technology/electronics vertical. Here it is at Yahoo! Tech.

I was unable to find coverage on CNET itself as of this hour (11 pm Pacific, Sunday) about the launch. It will be interesting to see how they treat it. However, here’s AP coverage and here’s the WSJ (sub. req’d).

The new site is a kind of “mashup,” combining search (of course), shopping, blogs, original and third-party editorial content (including video), community reviews, tagging/bookmarking and rankings. This also represents another interesting integration of Yahoo! Answers (Local is another).

In a way the new site is a window into all the trends and strategies being implemented at Yahoo! right now.

Houston is quoted in the AP story as saying, “We want to free people from the tyranny of ‘geekspeak.'” This is a smart approach. CNET has always been a top destination for sophisticated users to research consumer electronics. But Yahoo!’s new tech site appears to be aiming to become a hipper consumer reports on steroids. In other words a site that seeks to cater to a broader audience but that also has some very dynamic elements, including personalization and bookmarking.

What I found most interesting in my quick overview was the apparent thinking around audience segmentation reflected in the “Advisors“: “The Boomer,” “The Mom,” “The Techie Diva” and “The Working Guy.”

The site also creates more highly targeted display and search ad inventory for Yahoo! Computer-related online advertising generated $1.6 in revenues last year according to the IAB. It was the third largest category after the catch-all “consumer related marketing” (retail, auto, travel, entertainment) and financial services.

While not offering the depth of CNET (CNET content appears on the site), Yahoo! Tech could become quite a serious competitor — though CNET is publicy saying that Yahoo! Tech is not a competitor. The Riva Richmond WSJ piece quotes CNET Executive Vice President Joe Gillespie saying, “We don’t view Yahoo as a competitor,” and pointing out that CNET licenses content to Yahoo in an effort to drive traffic to CNET.

Even so, as a practical matter, I find it difficult to believe they won’t be competing to some degree for users and ad dollars. If Tech succeeds it will not only attract more brand (and search) ad revenue to Yahoo! it will also boost Shopping, since people will be looking for opportunities to buy. Eventually they’ll also need to integrate offline shopping into the buying options (CNET currently has this). But so will all the shopping sites.

Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.

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Yahoo Tech Channel Taking on CNET

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