Yahoo VP offers updates on search, local and more

Yahoo VP Hilary Schneider speaks at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference, offering updates about the business

At the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference today, Yahoo VP Hilary Schneider took the stage to offer an update on Yahoo and its businesses. She talked about specific trends - advertising competitiveness and an economic recovery, among other things. Here are some highlights of the session.

The economy, it seems, is recovering and the company believes the worst is behind it. On the upside of the economic downturn, advertisers had the chance to see the value that online advertising offered and, now that recovery is moving forward, that sentiment has sustained.

In terms of specific advertising segments, automobiles is pretty big, she said. The industry needs to be talking to consumers and playing up their brands so that when consumers do start to spend again, there will be strong recognition.

She made an interesting comment as the conversation shifted to newspaper partnerships and delivering local content and headlines not only into Yahoo's home page, but also across the entire site.

"We believe local is the new digital crack," she said. Users want local content - whether it be headlines or job listings - and Yahoo, through partnerships, is delivering that. And newspapers are getting the referral traffic that they need.

She said the company is maniacally focused on search volume and, as part of Yahoo's turn around, was to revive Yahoo's brand. Yes, the company wants to put focus on its variety of properties - and search is one of them.

Even within specific properties - Sports, for example - there are search trends, which helps drive search awareness, which in turn drives monetization. There is still ongoing tweaks going on with the results to increase the relevance, beyond a bunch of links.

From the audience, she was asked about widgets on televisions and how that's going in relation to partnerships TV makers.. She said the company looks at the world as cross-platform and cross-screens. Widgets are early still but, as you look at the partnerships, you should think of those as early learning to understand what viewers need and how widgets should evolve to meet those needs. For now, it's too early for her, specifically, to comment on the potential growth of that market.

Responding to a question, she said the company is still trying to reinvent search results, "co-mingling" with other content that might be more relevant to what the user is actually looking for - based on everything else you're doing aside from search. Search is really a small part of time spent online, she said.

Asked about AOL as a competitor, she said that company tells a good story but has yet to prove itself as a differentiator.

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