Yahoo today launched a new real-time search product called Search Direct, which provides users with instant answers and search results as they type in the engine’s query box.
Demonstrating the product at a launch event today, Shashi Seth, Yahoo’s SVP of search and marketplaces, said it has been developed with advertisers firmly in mind, and that brands will be offered the opportunity to buy real estate alongside it within the next few months.
“We’ve been thinking deeply about how we can engage with advertisers in this environment….These products don’t exist as we speak but we’ve been testing with brands and agencies to figure out how to best implement them,” he said.
Although similar to Google’s instant results feature, Search Direct returns information in a floating window directly below the search box, and pulls from a separate, smaller index and algorithm than its main search offering. The intention is to provide users with instant answers to their queries, rather than simply serving a list of results.
Seth described the possibility of rich advertiser content being instantly displayed alongside branded search terms, such as video or other rich media experiences. “This is a pretty beautiful canvas for advertisers, and provides opportunities for both branding and to provide users with information,” he said.
Following the launch of Search Direct, PPC ads will still be displayed on search results pages, however, so whenever a user clicks on a term or hits the enter key, a standard list of search results and ads will be displayed.
Seth implied the new product would therefore be aimed largely at brand campaigns, rather than the direct-response advertisers that currently make up the majority of search ad investment. “Advertisers might buy packages including inventory on the homepage, on Yahoo News, and on Search Direct,” he suggested.
Following the search alliance Yahoo implemented with Microsoft late last year, the latter now powers all of Yahoo’s organic and paid results. Microsoft will therefore provide the information surfaced by the Search Direct product, but the ad content will not be available on the Bing engine, at least initially.
Seth did speculate that further down the line the pair might look to provide self-service access to the product through Microsoft AdCenter, yet nothing has currently been implemented along those lines. He added it’s still “to be decided” whether or not Microsoft will be given a share of the revenue generated from the sale of Search Direct ads.