Sunday, January 21, 2007

Portals 'R Us: Yahoo Gens a Personal Finance Portal out of Spare Parts

Whatever Yahoo may or may not be it has certainly become the master of generating topic-specific portals that put most online consumer magazines to shame. The latest is Yahoo! Personal Finance, a well-designed amalgam of news, expert and user opinions, how-to-guides, calculators, glossary terms and data to support focusing on personal banking, budgeting, real estate and retirement planning. It's mostly content repositioned from other tabs in the Yahoo! Finance portal, but with enough of a specific focus on personal finance topics to draw a different find of audience. There's plenty of content from third parties but also a notable layer of Yahoo-specific content - including user-generated questions and answers from the Yahoo! Answers community relating to personal finance. Yahoo! Answers has become the social media "glue" for a number of Yahoo properties, well-integrated into the Personal Finance pages.

As with other Yahoo properties of this kind, the filtering of content is a little suspect. Some Answers topics are spot on but others such as "What's the best answer in a job interview when they ask 'What is your greatest weakness'?" seem kind of off-topic. And does a personal investor really care about a news story on "Berkeley Design Automation Opens Subsidiary in Japan?" Sometimes filler for "freshness" defeats the purpose of a portal's focus. Nonetheless Yahoo does this kind of topic-centric consumer media aggregation very well indeed. As major portals such as Yahoo aggregate not only third party content but unique user-generated content and their own editorial offerings it will become increasingly hard for traditional consumer publications to build up enough editorial "oomph" to compete with online offerings that can be sliced and diced dozens of different ways with minimal investment.
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