I had about 20 minutes with Yahoo’s Shashi Seth after the press conference to discuss a range of things related to the Search Direct announcement. First, he confirmed that Search Direct entirely replaces Yahoo’s Search Assist. Indeed one way to look at it is as Search Assist Plus.
The Answer Is Out There
Seth said to me that for about 50 percent of the top queries on the web there is a “definite answer” and that Yahoo will strive to provide that within Search Direct. In other contexts it will provide a range of choices to users.
Seth predicted that “in a couple of years we may walk completely away from the SERP as we know it.”
It struck me, however, that Yahoo was not eliminating the SERP but shrinking and compressing it down to this miniaturized format. Seth didn’t disagree with my characterization.
Search Direct Will Look Different on Tablets
Seth clarified that when expressed on tablets or mobile devices it could take very different forms. He suggested for example that on a tablet there might be a much more “magazine-like” experience. He said they’re experimenting with different UIs and content presentations now.
I asked about the algorithm. During the press event Yahoo said that this was an algorithm distinct from Microsoft’s organic search algorithm.
Seth told me that right now the links and content being shown in the right part of the box are the URLs that are the “most clicked” throughout the Yahoo network. He also implied that it might get more nuanced over time. And he added that rankings can change moment to moment because it’s dynamic.
Search and Display Hook Up
We also spoke briefly about the advertising angle here. Shashi Seth said that Yahoo’s agency and brand advertising partners have been very intrigued and excited about bringing more brand advertising to search. He said that there are some discussions going on now and that in a few months Yahoo users would see the results as ads roll out.
Seth made the larger point that Search Direct represents the convergence of search and branding and of search and discovery. Yahoo is trying to provide specific answers, as well as expose adjacent and related content.
It’s both “push” and “pull.”