Yahoo! Answers – Implications for Marketers & Publishers

Rough notes without comment from me – if you disagree with anything said, leave it in the comments :)

Stephen now talking about Sainsbury’s sponsorship of the food & drink category on Answers. A bit sticky for them because they couldn’t control the conversation – some people were rude about them, but when that happened other people chimed in and supported the retailer. Sainsbury’s was the first and a bit of an experiment, but the response overall is very positive – so the challenge for Yahoo! is to scale this sort of activity.

Look at the US Presidential Campaign sites (and compare perhaps with those in the French election) Hilary Clinton putting herself out there capturing quality feedback from citizens and engaging with it.

Providing Answers badges and widgets customised for small publishers and bloggers. So taking both those ideas further forward, we’re introducing “Knowledge Partners” – to allow businesses to participate overtly in the dialogue – not pretending that you’re Joe Bloggs with an answer that happens to be favourable to you, but being honest about the context in which you’re answering questions. So this becomes a channel for customer care, a way of answering real questions.

Now talking about the Wii tag debacle – businesses will make mistakes and upset the community occasionally.

Q: Do you have any ways of helping us monitoring the conversation?
A: Well that’s the idea behind Knowledge Partners – giving you tools to see what’s being said. Giving you the opportunity to share your “expert knowledge” as a brand owner. But people are going to talk about you, so get used to it

Q: [Playstation] How representative is your audience compared with say Sainsbury’s
A: It is the online audience, we haven’t seen any skewing. In any particular area, you may get a knowledge or interest skew, but not in terms of demographics. The interface is really simple and that helps. The new video version might skew things.

Q:[Playboy] How do you see this merging with online qualititative research?
A: Have to be very conscious that this service is firstly for consumers to share and exchange knowledge and we won’t do anything to stand in the way of that. That said, of course it can be a great way to do unstructured research on what is important to users rather than what’s important to the brand. We’ve already seen some of the researchy type of question “what’s your favourite movie?” but that sort of chat room stuff is sinking to the bottom.

Q: Blurring between PR & Marketing – where’s the driver for that?
A: I don’t know yet, it’s too early – Sainsbury’s was Marketing led – engaging in topics around how can you have discussions with your customers. They were looking for ways to have a conversation and this seemed quite a good way. Clearly for Clinton it’s more of a PR thing, but we don’t have a definitive answer yet. The challenge of PR is not just protecting and promoting the brand but really how you engage with people. I run the audience group for Yahoo, which is a new cross-functional team marketing, pr, community outreach and it’s less and less about pushing out messages and more about engaging with the community, so more and more I can’t make the distinction between all of these activities.

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