Yahoo launches customisable search page

Yahoo has announced My Yahoo, which lets users create a customised page of their favourite Internet sites.

Yahoo has announced today My Yahoo, which lets users create a customised page of their favourite Internet sites. Currently, a user interested in, say, news must click on each news source and wait for the site to come up. But with My Yahoo, a user can view in one place headlines from a number of different news sources, according to Karen Edwards, director of brand management for Yahoo, the Sunnyvale, California-based Web search service.

Though the new service does not make Yahoo obsolete, "it replaces Yahoo in terms of your starting point at the beginning of the day, because it's got everything you go to frequently" on one page, Edwards says. After users register their postal code information, My Yahoo serves up local restaurant, sports and weather information. In addition to local content, users select general areas of interest to them, such as entertainment, business or technology, and My Yahoo creates a page containing that information. The page is fully editable, so that if a user selected "stocks" as an interest they can eliminate certain industries that are irrelevant to them, Edwards says.

In addition, My Yahoo actively presents information to users by alerting them to new sites based on the sites they select for their page. "It kind of proactively matches your interest with other sites" by pointing out related sites or alerting them when a new, similar site is created, Edwards says. In addition to matching users with specific sites, My Yahoo lets Yahoo offer a targeted audience to advertisers.

"It's a very, very powerful way of going after people who you know have an interest in what you're doing, what your products and services are," Edwards says. But though companies will be able to use this information to advertise on My Yahoo, the company will not sell this information to others, Edwards says. "We're incredibly sensitive to issues of privacy and to the spirit of the Web community," she says, explaining that Yahoo doesn't sell information and tries not to ask people about unrelated subjects during the customised page setup. "We don't need to know their name, for instance," or their address and phone number, she says.

My Yahoo can also serve to put like-minded users in touch with one another, through an intelligent agent called Firefly, Edwards says. Firefly lets users post their reactions to subjects, initially just music and movies, though this will most likely expand to encompass other areas, Edwards says.

Like Yahoo, My Yahoo is free and needs no downloading, since it runs off Yahoo's servers in Sunnyvale, California, Edwards says. The company has no immediate plans to launch international versions of My Yahoo, though it could be spun off with international versions of Yahoo, Edwards says. Japanese and Canadian versions of Yahoo have already been launched and the company is working on UK, German and French versions, Edwards says.

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