Earlier this month Yahoo! opened up a visualization tool to reveal the data used in their Content Optimization and Relevance Engine (C.O.R.E.): the algorithm that determines what content shows up on the main page of Yahoo!
To quickly weigh the pro's and con's as I am seeing them in C.O.R.E.:
- Huge data set thanks to Yahoo's resources (up to 13,000,000 stories per day)
- The ability to differentiate by age group and sex is very useful
- The numbers are surprisingly specific, telling you exactly how many visitors clicked on a story
- It's free market research (so why not!)
- The interests filters leave something to be desired ("News", "Shine", or "OMG!"... really guys?)
- The Flash is much more pretty than practical (ie. you can't export a CSV and plot trends)
- It's great that you can filter geographically, but this is limited to just a few U.S. cities.
Considering that Yahoo! is still dominant in many foreign markets, such as Japan, that last bullet point is especially disappointing. In an area that Yahoo! must have supremely more data than just about any fresh startup attempting this would, they're not taking advantage of it with C.O.R.E.
On the whole, however, it's great to see something creative and obviously needed like this from Yahoo! again (it's been a while!). Though search engineers have become much more transparent over the years, rarely are they this candid about their methods and data.
Any content marketer can learn a lot from this new visualization tool, as it tells us exactly what users are most interested in what on a given day. Coupled with tools like H.A.R.O., any experienced copywriter should be able write a press release that newsjacks the biggest stories, produce a guest editorial that has more than a fighting chance of getting published somewhere great, or just post a corporate blog entry that people actually share and link.