As 2014 has come to a close, we're beginning to look forward to the year ahead. Yahoo has seen dramatic changes in its approach as a search engine mogul, and could be in store for a record-setting 2015.
Recently unleashing a new design, 2014 was filled with new announcements and new acquisitions for Yahoo, all of which were carefully orchestrated by CEO Marissa Mayer to expand its growth as a global force in search.
The biggest and most talked about change of the year was Mayer's deal with Mozilla to become the default search engine of Firefox. Beginning in Dec. 2014, the updated Firefox 34 gave Yahoo three times more search traffic in its early stages. Though many were skeptical of the business decisions and the various start-ups bought by Mayer, the search engine has made tremendous gains toward becoming Google's top competitor in search.
How Does Mozilla Affect Yahoo?
Firefox is head-to-head with Internet Explorer as the second leading Web browser in the world, behind Google's Chrome, which controls a large share of the search traffic. The partnership with Mozilla to replace Google as its default search engine will earn thousands - if not millions - of additional search queries for Yahoo. In turn, the ads seen on the platform will multiply tenfold. Firefox has a share of about 15 percent in the U.S. market.
Even if you're not using Firefox, Yahoo is encouraging you do so. When you're using Chrome and visit Yahoo.com, you're given the choice to upgrade to the newest version of Firefox. Next time you visit the site, check out the top right corner of your window (or see screenshot below).
What Else has Yahoo Done to See Advances?
Yahoo has been on a spending spree since the day they hired Mayer as CEO.
We're living in a mobile world, and the biggest acquisitions - and changes - have been made in an effort to grow the company through mobile. As Mayer says, Yahoo is a mobile-first company. Look back to January and its acquisition of Aviate, a mobile company that organizes the apps on your phone. It's a cleaner look for a personalized experience. Plug your headphones in, your music apps appear front and center. Get in your car, see transit options like Maps, Waze or TripAdvisor depending on your installed apps. If you're at a restaurant, read the latest Yelp reviews. All without leaving your home screen. Content on-demand.
Speaking of on-demand in a mobile world, shoppers are converting on their smartphones. Nearly 30 percent of Black Friday 2014 sales came from mobile devices. Yahoo gave online stores the platform to prepare. Its new ecommerce display, Yahoo Stores, provides customizable templates so merchants can get their stores up and running quickly. as well as real-time analytics to increase traffic and conversions, powerful schema and promotional tools and responsive designs.
How Yahoo Stands in Mobile
The technology acquired in the Mayer era has been used to increase Yahoo's presence for mobile users. In the third quarter, Yahoo reported 550 million mobile active users (up 18 percent over the past year). Mayer has more than doubled Yahoo's mobile presence since 2012.
One of the leading factors in the growth: Flurry. Bought out in July 2014, the mobile analytics tracker will provide developers and publishers of apps with information on the performance of their users/audience, how apps are being used, and how to target ads that make users more likely to convert.
Where will Yahoo see Themselves in 2015 and Beyond?
Building on mobile, Mayer is going to look to transform search on your devices. Search experiences will be different when utilizing your smartphone, and the partnership with Mozilla, as well as the implementation of Flurry's technology has Yahoo on a path to change the landscape of how we use our mobile devices for search.
Mayer has already planned the first-ever mobile conference for developers, set for a February event. Look for new products and new technologies for app creations. One thing is certain. Yahoo is on a mission to provide users with an innovative search experience. Over two years of acquisitions and effort put into mobile has seen Yahoo get out in front of this shift in user experience.
As mobile continues to rise, and Yahoo stays true to its word as a mobile-first organization, it will be interesting to see how they compare to the likes of Google and Facebook at this time next year. With Mayer at the helm, and her ability to use mobile to grow the company, don't expect them to be too far behind.