Yahoo's Mayer: Personal Will Be Key to Search and Mobile
Marissa Mayer, in her first interview as Yahoo CEO, spoke about personalization, user data ownership and where a little love will go a long way.Marissa Mayer has intrigued the mobile industry and beyond since, in July 2012, she became Yahoo's fifth CEO in four years (while seven months pregnant—a detail that's no small part of the intrigue). In November she lit up parent forums when, at a Fortune event, she called the baby "easy" and the job "fun." Which doesn't mean there isn't still plenty to do and figure out. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, Mayer sat for a 30-minute, on-stage conversation with Bloomberg Television's Erik Schatzaker—her first such interview since becoming CEO. In her brisk, accessible style, Mayer shared her thoughts on where the industry is going and how it and Yahoo are evolving. Most notably, she described how she expects that in the next three to five years the mobile Internet will become more efficient and effective by becoming more personalized. Mayer explained:
I think that there's a huge opportunity in search around personalization. Understanding what do I know already, what are my preferences, and how to present the information. And I think that that extends beyond just search but broadly to discovery. We can think about, how do we take the Internet and order it for you? There are all of these news feeds ... the question is, really, what order should people read things in the morning? What should they look at? ... To really do a great job in that kind of discovery mode, you need a tremendous sense of personalization.
...It's not that [personalization] replaces search, but it becomes a critical part of search. One provocative way of thinking about it is, in terms of a lot of people say that when you type into the search box, that's your query. In the future, you become the query—it's what you typed, it's your background, it's where you are, it's your preferences, it's what you looked at yesterday. The search box can take all of that as the input, and come up with a set of results that are customized for you.