How Yahoo’s mobile-first strategy has started showing results

"The user’s core daily habits have all gone mobile and this is our business," says Yahoo's Nitin Mathur.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: August 12, 2014 8:09:11 am
Yahoo Headquarters in Sunnywale, California.  Yahoo Headquarters in Sunnywale, California.

For a name that has been almost ubiquitous with the Internet for many years, Yahoo finds itself facing a new challenge these days. But after an initial stutter brought in by the ever-changing Internet scenarios, the giant from Sunnyvale, California has repositioned itself as a mobile-first business.

“The user’s core daily habits have all gone mobile and this is our business. We want to make sure that we make these daily habits more inspiring and entertaining,” Nitin Mathur, Yahoo’s Senior Director, Marketing APAC, told during a recent interaction.

Yahoo has realised that the mobile user’s present requirements is a perfect match for the kind of services it has had in its portfolio traditionally. Mathur says Yahoo has been looking at how it can reimagine these set of services for the mobile world. “According to a recent study, people look at their mobile phones 157 times during an average day. This is why we have been focussing on apps over the past few months,” he says, adding how the Yahoo Mail app and Flickr have been updated in the recent past. Yahoo has also launched its News Digest app which has since become very popular and also updated the Aviate launcher which it recently acquired. “There are no traditional advantages in the mobile world and the rules are very different,” says Mathur.


“Since Marissa (Mayer) came on board we are not thinking of ourselves as a big company but a network of startups. She has brought a lot of changes from a culture standpoint. We are now running a marathon, but in a series of sprints. The first sprint was in terms of getting the talent in place, the second was about the getting the products out, the third about growing traffic… it is that simple, that sequential,” explains Mathur.

“Everybody can publish on the web. But as the largest publishers of web content in the world, our aim is to make sure our content is personalised for what you are looking at,” says Mathur, highlighting how the company’s mobile users have gone from 200 to 430 million in the past 18 months. “This is not a static game and we increase the number of updates to all apps by about 35 per cent. Weather has seen a 50 per cent growth and mail has grown 180 per cent,” he adds.

One of Yahoo’s recent mobile successes has been the New Digest app which now has local content in six markets. “Yes, we will localise it for India too, though I cannot give a date,” says Mathur, says adding that the numbers on these apps shows that Yahoo is moving in the right direction.

Yahoo has been able to arrest the decline that has plagued the company for some years. It is now the top traffic site in the US, a position it held for long during the first Internet boom. But can it take on the dominance of Google in a country like India?

“We reach roughly about 50 per cent of the Internet audience in India, more than half of it in mobile. We are organically growing, but there is competition… but we also think of them as partners when we marry content and technology,” says Mathur. He accepts that distribution is a big play with mobile apps and gives momentum. “We are and have been working with established as well as some of the newer brands in India. We are in constant conversation with them.”

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