After Facebook Integration, Will Yahoo Own Social Media?

If only Facebook's image hadn't taken such a beating

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Often overshadowed by the nation's Google obsession, Yahoo recently made a triumphant return to the tech conversation last month with its purchase of media clearinghouse Associated Content. Now Yahoo is taking its insurgency to a new level by with full-tilt Facebook integration. Tech Crunch's Michael Arrington has the skinny on Yahoo's "all in" integration with the recently embattled social network. "We’ve all known deep integration with Facebook was coming," writes Arrington, "but until now it wasn’t clear exactly how deeply Yahoo would go":

Users will be able to log into Facebook right on the Yahoo home page as well as other places throughout Yahoo, like mail. Most interactions on Yahoo will, like leaving comments on stories and status updates in mail and on the home page, will give users the option of posting that content as well to Facebook. All of this goes hand in glove with the recent privacy updates and move from a friend to a follower model within Yahoo.

Yahoo's embrace of Facebook, the Web's preeminent sharing medium, appears to most tech writers as a sign of Yahoo's bid to become the dominant entry-point for content into the social Web. Given Facebook's recent privacy issues, however, some have mixed feelings about the possible outcome of this partnership.

  • A Savior for Yahoo? Sarah Perez at Read Write Web thinks that a full-fledged partnership between Yahoo and Facebook may be enough to save the flagging company. "As far as picking a direction, going 'all in' on Facebook isn't that bad of a choice for the flailing company, which was recently described by the New York Times as 'a dog,' referring to its poor stock market showing," writes Perez. "Creating a social and news dashboard application out of is a decent choice for the company - after all, that's what Google is doing with Buzz and let's not forget that social aggregator FriendFeed did OK before being bought up by Facebook." Perez accompanies her analysis with a dose of skepticism. "One has to wonder: is a Facebook-heavy Yahoo enough to save the company?"
  • Succeeding Where Google Failed  The social Web is the last frontier for competition between Web giants, and Lucian Parfeni of Softpedia thinks Yahoo may make inroads where Google failed. (Google Buzz's launch was seen as a disaster.) "Yahoo Updates already aggregates activity from plenty of places, so all the company needs to do is make the product universal," notes Parfeni. "But Yahoo was wise to make the roll-out and integration gradual and it has, so far, avoided any of the issues that plagued others like Google and even Facebook itself. And since Yahoo is making privacy a very important component of the new social features, it may be able to shield itself going further."
  • A Social Web Pioneer In his blog The Equity Kicker, venture capitalist and technology maestro Nic Brisbourne sees a potential future as pied piper of the social Web for Yahoo. "Social media integration has been a mainstay of innovative content businesses for a while ... but is more ambitious for Yahoo," writes Brisbourne:
If they are successful in becoming a single destination that people visit to manage their activity across multiple social networks they will have carved a new and high value market.  At the moment it is difficult to look past Facebook which makes the aggregation play look less interesting, but it is a decent bet over that over the medium term the social network landscape will become more complex and fragmented (again). Beyond the impact on Yahoo’s fortunes this development is interesting because it shows the value social adds to traditionally non-social activities and the benefits of weaving social network integration throughout our web activities.

  • Ad Revenue, Ahoy! Laurie Sullivan at Media Post anticipates a glut of ad revenue for Yahoo, because of the marketing tools the Facebook integration will provide. "It will give Yahoo a better understanding on how the information from the display ad gets shared and the strengths of the person sharing the ad parts through their social graph," explains Sullivan. "Yahoo can monitor and track modules and plans to give advertisers reports that identify the pieces being shared through Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. The non-personally identifiable information includes click-through rates, engagement and more." With digital advertising continuing to be a challenging field for online companies, Yahoo will may have the upper hand in consumer research.
  • I Still Don't Trust Facebook While deep integration may be good for Yahoo!, The Register's Chris Williams remains wary of Facebook's past privacy problems. "Facebook may have been shamed into making its privacy controls somewhat simpler, but its underlying policy has not changed: it aims to have users share more in more places and so weave itself throughout the web."

  • Yahoo Will Be 'Hollowed Out' by Facebook  Kim-Bai Cutler at SocialBeat expresses concern that Yahoo is sacrificing control for connectability. "The issue is it’s increasingly hard to see what Yahoo uniquely offers to its audience," laments Cutler. "The company has long operated from the premise that it should be a one-stop shop for users or a web’s start page for the world. But signing a deeper agreement with Facebook ultimately may be a stopgap measure as its users defect to other destinations. The social network recently outpaced the web portal as the leading display advertising network earlier this year."
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