Yahoo Finally Hits Blog Scene

In a recent SmallBusinessComputing article, Michelle Megna talked bout how small business owners can use cutting-edge blog technology as a low-cost way to market their companies. Now Yahoo is finally getting in on the action, having just announced Yahoo 360, a service that combines blogging tools with social networking.

Like MSN Spaces, Yahoo 360 lets you set privacy and permission levels for access to their content. MSN Spaces lets you share music play lists, and Yahoo 360 lets you link to friends’ LAUNCHcast play lists. It also follows MSN’s route of integrating with other communication tools, including LAUNCHcast radio stations, Yahoo Messenger, Address Book and Groups.

The blogging tools let you post text and photos via Yahoo 360, My Yahoo,
Yahoo Mobile Internet or any RSS reader.

Yahoo added social networking components, such as the ability to set up a “My Friends” page, which is automatically updated, as fresh content generated by buddies goes live. In Yahoo Local, you can choose to view listings that have been rated or reviewed by your friends, co-workers, customers or clients. You can also “blast” out a message to everyone in the Friends list.

The service will launch on March 29 as an invitation-only beta. The company plans to get feedback from the initial group, add features and then widen the availability of the beta. Yahoo is the last major search provider to add blogging, a service many see as a must-have for search services and portals.

“We now have MSN and Yahoo saying straight out, ‘This suite of products is a bundle, and the competition will be at the bundle level,'” said David Jackson, an independent market analyst and editor of the Internet Stock Blog.

Jackson said Google will have to follow suit, adding instant messaging and other services to match the broader suites offered by MSN and Yahoo.

The pages and pages of content that Yahoo 360 customers will likely generate could go a long way toward easing the ad gap Yahoo faces.

Google, the leader in search and, likely, in revenue from pay-per-click ads on search results and third-party Web sites, lets bloggers and small publishers quickly and easily enable ads on their site.

Yahoo, which doesn’t break out search revenue from other kinds of advertising, is contextual search on a few blog sites, but hasn’t officially launched the Yahoo Publishers Network yet. Making the network available to Yahoo 360 users could boost ad revenue.

Jackson questioned whether Yahoo’s blogging service might be too late, however, to capture enough customers; many of whom, he thinks, already use one of the competitive services, which include the independent Six Apart. “Will they be able to leverage the stickiness of their e-mail and IM services to sign up tons of people for their own blogs?” he asked. “Or will they find that they missed the boat? That’s up in the air.”

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