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Yahoo Combines Display, Search in New Hybrid Format. But Where Does Microsoft Fit In?

Yahoo has launched Search Direct at a press event in San Francisco. It is a new ad format that looks similar to Google Instant in that as the user starts typing in a query the site offers up possible results in the pane on the right side of the screen, many of which are rich contextual data.

Faster?

Yahoo, though, is positioning this new feature as very different from Google Instant, and in fact there are ways in which the two formats diverge, although perhaps not as dramatically as Yahoo suggests. With Search Direct, for example, rich content is included in suggested responses, such as local weather widgets when searching for a city, and these pull up in a faster manner than the rich content that is displayed with Google Instant because the whole page isn’t being refreshed (via TechCrunch).

That is because the results are generated by a different infrastructure that is significantly smaller, Yahoo SVP of Search Products Shashi Seth told reporters at the event. How long these speedier results will last are unclear. Right now Yahoo has launched with 15 categories of data for Search Direct but will eventually expand to include hundreds of categories.

Ad Opportunities

Search Direct is still a work in progress and it appears Yahoo is feeling its way with ad opportunities.  For instance Seth said advertisers could pay to have graphical ads or even video ads –display ads in other words – inside the Search Direct box. It is exploring some of these concepts now with advertisers, he added, according to The Independent. "Over the course of the next couple of months you're probably going to see some of these ideas at play.” It is also working on an iPad version.

Yahoo is clearly looking to trump Google with this offering, but it also appears to be indifferent to the impact it might have on its search partner Bing. For starters Search Direct is built on infrastructure that Yahoo owns.

It also hasn’t decided whether it will share revenue with Microsoft from whatever ad formats it does develop for Search Direct. "People still come to Yahoo and search on Yahoo," said Yahoo chief product officer Blake Irving. (via CNN).

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