Setting aside for a moment the credibility gap inherent in any new Yahoo product launch – let alone a search product – you have to admire the company's brazenness in talking up the ad potential for Axis, its new lightweight browser geared toward smartphones and tablets.
Below are a few choice comments Ethan Batraski, director of product management for Yahoo Search, shared with AdExchanger in discussing the new product (which for the record does not launch with any advertising or data collection).
On mobile search retargeting, Batraski says, "There's a huge opportunity to use that data. The advertiser benefits and the user benefits."
On data: "With Axis, because of the experience of the browser, I can target on a number of things. I can see what your search history is, what you're browsing history is.
On new formats: "As we make search more visual, you start to think about display ads. What if I could take a screen shot of the landing page for the advertiser and drop them in among results?"
On cross-device addressability: "[Users are] reachable within all three devices [PC, smartphone, tablet]. We can have a conversation with them across all three devices."
This is one reason marketers continue to adore Yahoo, despite the mishigas. Whereas Google, Facebook and other platform giants rarely talk openly about their ad targeting strengths, except in the context of user privacy, Yahoo seems to embrace it. To some extent you can chalk up the lack of reticence to its underdog status. Privacy watchdogs and legislators don't perceive Yahoo as a threat, so it runs on a longer tether. But to a larger extent the openness is simply Yahoo's legacy; the company was an early adopter (inventor even) of search retargeting and behavioral advertising and so the practices are expected.
To be fair, Batraski gave a shout out to user protection: "It's important that users know how we're using their data, what we're using the data for, and allow them to opt in or opt out."
- Axis foregoes results pages in favor of a scrolling visual interface. Yahoo says, "Axis gives people instant answers and visual previews so they can continuously discover and explore content without interruption."
- Device continuity: "Upon downloading Axis, people can start a search on their computer, flip through the results while out on their iPhone, and finish the search at home on their iPad. Content can be easily shared by email, Pinterest and Twitter.
- On iPhone and Android it's an app, while the desktop version takes the form of a plugin that works with major browsers.
And here's some early coverage of the browser:
- Here comes Yahoo's own Web browser -- Axis (CNET)
- Yahoo’s Axis Brings Shared Visual Search Results to iOS and Browsers (Wired)
- Yahoo’s Axis: Visual Search, an iOS Browser and No “Ten Blue Links" (Time)
By Zach Rodgers