Yahoo Inc, owner of the most-used group of Internet sites, offered a new feature to help consumers search for products and redesigned its online shopping service to boost revenue from advertising and online commerce.
The new search function and redesigned shopping site were developed with technology Yahoo got when it purchased Inktomi Corp, Rob Solomon, vice president of Yahoo shopping, said in an interview yesterday. Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, California, purchased search-engine Inktomi for US$256.9 million in March.
Yahoo chief executive Terry Semel has used Yahoo's search engine to bring the company back to profitability, as he started letting businesses pay to have their Web sites listed at the top of search results. The new shopping features will expose Yahoo's users to more search results where businesses pay to be included.
"Product-search remains a relatively nascent field," said Derek Brown, an analyst at Pacific Growth Equities in San Francisco. "I think it's clearly a greenfield opportunity."
The new shopping site lets consumers view the features of different products side-by-side on one page. Listings for different models of digital camera can be called up, for example, to compare prices and features.
The shopping site also offers product reviews by consumers and "buyer's guides" that business can pay to have their product included in, Yahoo said.
The feature is meant to attract consumers more likely to buy the products offered through Yahoo's online shopping service, Solomon said. It's also meant to attract a larger audience for Yahoo's "sponsored" advertisers.
Sponsored search lets advertisers buy the right to have their Web sites listed at the top of Internet search results, under a separate heading called "sponsored links." Sponsored links have boosted Yahoo's ad sales. Revenue from advertising and online shopping rose 44 percent to US$219.2 million last quarter from a year earlier.
Yahoo's product-search service will compete with Cnet Networks Inc's Mysimon.com, Dealtime Ltd's Shopping.com, and PriceGrabber.com.
Google Inc, owner of the most-used Internet search engine, is testing its own product-search service, called Froogle.com.