Are New Search Features on Tap for Yahoo?

Yahoo is expected to brief media and analysts on consumer product news at 2 p.m. EDT today. The briefing follows the same construct as Yahoo's July 21 launch of its new home page. The home page is expected to be more tightly integrated with search, something that Yahoo promised would show up in bucket tests in August. Yahoo CEO Carl Bartz told Yahoo has grand designs for its search experience despite the company's 10-year search and search ad deal with Microsoft.

Yahoo is set to demonstrate upgrades to its "most popular consumer products" for media and analysts Aug. 24, according to a company spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the 2 p.m. EDT briefing will be "a great opportunity for you to hear about how Yahoo continues to evolve the consumer experience with key product enhancements, directly from Yahoo executives."

The spokesperson declined to provide additional details in advance of the call, though the briefing construct follows the same method of the company's demo of its new home page to media July 21.

During that briefing, Tapan Bhat, senior vice president of Integrated Consumer Experience at Yahoo, said Yahoo's search engine would be more tightly integrated with the new Yahoo home page, which was redesigned to function more as an application platform users can customize.

Bhat said that while today's Yahoo search application looks markedly different from Yahoo's home page, some users in August will begin seeing search results pages that look like the Yahoo home page. That is, applications appear in the left-hand rail, results and contents in the middle, and ads on the right-hand rail.

However, those plans became questionable just a week later, when Yahoo and Microsoft agreed to a 10-year search and search ad deal to take on market leader Google.

Though the deal is not expected to come to fruition until 2010 (assuming it clears regulatory hurdles), many search experts claimed Yahoo was essentially giving up in the search market. Indeed, software engineers for Yahoo's sophisticated BOSS and SearchMonkey programs, which open up Yahoo search to third-party development, said they were uncertain what the Microhoo deal meant for Yahoo's evolving search platforms.

Yet Microsoft's plan to power Yahoo search with Bing is purely an infrastructure and platform play; the look and feel of Yahoo's search experience is expected to remain distinctly Yahoo. For example, Yahoo expects to retain such Web services as its Search Pad annotation tool.

Yahoo apparently has even grander designs beyond integrating its search engine with its revamped home page, according to comments from Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz in an Aug. 19 profile on Bartz in

That report claimed Yahoo engineers are working on a search results page that marks a departure from the classic 10 blue links, making it "more like a newspaper with real-time information." Though this approach is more than a year away, the article claimed users would be able to:

"Look up a hotel in Athens, Greece, and an overview page will deliver a picture of it, a locator map, ratings of the service, attractions nearby and a list of what's new in town. There are tabs to other reviews, images and discussions about the hotel. Search for a bank and you get its Web site, the latest company news, including stock price, and a list of nearby branches. Soon to appear after Microsoft takes over search, these pages can accommodate Yahoo display ads along with the sponsored links that are Google's mainstay. "

Yahoo this fall also expects to improve user engagement with advertising, including a brand campaign targeting Internet video and Web access on mobile devices, as well as traditional Yahoo sites.