Yahoo Velocity: Not all is dire in the land of Yahoo!

Yahoo has been the target of a lot of critics over the past year or so for not living up to its potential. The number of people calling for the ouster of Terry Semel is getting tough to keep track of. More often than not the criticism is generally framed with a comparison to Google’s performance. People often punctuate this argument with Yahoo not acquiring Google when they had the chance. Personally this last bit doesn’t hold a lot of water with me "¦ 20/20 hindsight and all. In light of all this Yahoo bashing, we decided to dig into Compete numbers for Yahoo in much the same we did for Google last month.
To understand Yahoo’s performance we looked at how a few Yahoo search properties are doing from a consumer driven data perspective. Hopefully we won’t out any of Mr. Semel’s skeletons.

Well the first thing you need to understand when you look at Yahoo is the number of properties that fall under the auspices of this little company that has survived one bubble burst. Maybe there’s something to all that peanut butter talk. Since we just wanted to get a flavor for how Yahoo has been doing we selected a core set to look at. Sorry if your favorite Yahoo search property didn’t make our list.

The bottom-line "¦ Yahoo overall has grown sessions 10% in the past year but the core products such as Web Search, Maps, Sports and Shopping did not contribute to the gains.

Again to identify the winners and the losers, Compete categorized each Yahoo property into three categories (Top Performers, Middle Performers and Under Performers) based on their 13-month growth trend. For some properties this was a bit tricky since session-based traffic has been all over the map. Compete indexed all sites to their session volume in February ’06. Index scores over 100 indicate proportional growth. Index scores under 100 indicated proportional decline.

For the Top Performers there are really only two stand-out super stars, though the rest have performed solidly.

  • Note that for the Top Performers we’ve dropped Yahoo Video from the charting since it kills the scale. The growth of Yahoo Video since they launched the new version back in May has been through the roof.
  • After Video the other super star is Yahoo Answers. As I’ve mentioned before, Answers has always been a stand-out for Yahoo.

The middle of the pack is made up of an interesting mix of services.

  • Leading the group is Yahoo Finance. Until relatively recently though, Yahoo Finance has pretty much just been plodding along.
  • The other really interesting story in this group is Web Search, where sessions are actually flat year-over-year. You may recall from last week’s market share post that on a query basis Yahoo Web Search is actually down 13%. What’s up with that? There’s definitely something interesting to explore there. I’ll get back to you on that soon.

I am a little hesitant to use the term “Under Achievers” in the bottom ranks. A number of these properties have actually performed pretty admirably over the course of the year and only fell behind the ball recently.

  • Yahoo image sessions were down 3% from February of last year. Good thing Yahoo’s got Flickr. Flickr sessions were up 151% year-over-year!
  • Yahoo Sports is one of the oddball ones in this group. Back in September at the height of Football and Baseball Yahoo Sports topped out at nearly 200. In February however, Sports was down 15% year-over-year. Maybe March Madness will give it some much needed lift "¦ didn’t seem to do much last year though.

So all in all Yahoo seems to be holding their own with some super star properties and few duds. Oddly enough Yahoo seems to be a little more focused than Google. Next up MSN/Live "¦