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Yahoo! preps build-your-own-dynamic-website service

'The science of web technology' can be yours

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Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz has indicated that her company is developing a service that will allow third-party websites to dynamically optimize their content using Yahoo!'s recently-revamped back-end infrastructure.

"[Optimizing and personalizing web content] doesn't scale with most companies," Bartz said during an appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit in downtown San Francisco. "We're looking at helping people manage their content...We think that through an ecosystem of web-publishing partnerships, we can help people not only with ad optimization, but with content optimization."

It's unclear how far along this project is. But it doesn't seem likely to arrive as a product any time soon.

In the past, Bartz said, Yahoo! was guilty of serving up pages that were too "static". But in recent years, as the company rolled out a common back-end infrastructure for all its web properties, this has changed. "Yahoo! pages stayed static way too long. They needed to have interactivity. They needed economy...and all those things in the Web 2.0 sphere...The science of web technology needs to be very personal," she said.

"You have to serve information that people find interesting and occasionally amusing and entertaining. To do that, you have to understand what they've been doing [in the past]. You have to make decisions and serve up to them not only different articles, but different ads and different placement on the page, really pushing personalization."

Yahoo!, she said, now serves about six million unique front pages each day, taking advantage of user data and machine learning as well as good old-fashioned human decision-making.

With the new service Bartz hinted at, the idea is to give third-parties access to the tools Yahoo! has built to solve the static-pages problem — Yahoo!'s "science of web technology," as she put it.

Just a few years ago, each of Yahoo!'s disparate properties ran on its own, separate infrastructure. But with the adoption of Hadoop and other distributed technologies, the company has moved to a more, well, Googly set-up. In September, Yahoo! unveiled a revamped Yahoo! News that's built atop the company's "Content Agility" platform, a single, global platform that houses all the company's content. All the company's news sites — across the world — now use a single codebase and a single (distributed) content repository, but each site can be customized not only for a particular region, but a particular user. ®

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