"Community and Convergence is where we see the big focus in the years to come", John Marcom Jr, Yahoo's senior vice president of International Operations, responsible for overseeing Yahoo!'s international business operations outside the US told Pocket-lint.co.uk as he outlined the future for Yahoo!.
With over 500 million users and aspirations of obtaining a further 500 million more within 5 years, Yahoo, the Internet giant, has fought hard through the boom and bust years of the dotcom bubble to hold its corner against the likes of Google and other internet giants. Like its fellow California competition, social networking and the sharing of information is very much at the top of the agenda.
"We've learnt a lot about social communities and how they work, since our acquisition of Flickr a year ago", Marcom told us in a interview on a rainy day in London's Soho House private members club.
"So much so that it has influenced how we talk to our users and some of the features that we'll implemented or about to implement in the future."
The photo sharing website, which allows users to share images with friends, family and the world was bought for an undisclosed sum last year by Yahoo to allow the company to get very quick grasp on a market that seemed at the time to be spiralling out of its reach.
Social Networking is clearly the buzzword for the Internet at the moment with Video close behind especially following the sale of social video sharing site YouTube to Google for 1.65 billion dollars.
"Currently the users in the East are considerably more advanced internet users than the West. Almost 50% of internet traffic in South Korea for example is user generated content rather than publisher driven", says Marcom.
If these numbers are right, it’s a compelling reason to offer internet consumers the chance to make their own content rather than having to rely on company created substance. But Yahoo Believes content isn't the only key to success. It's all about converging a number of elements together to offer a complete package, something which it feels the likes of YouTube can't offer.
"On video.yahoo.com there are a number of ways for people to use the service; upload there own content, view the videos we've or other users have uploaded, or search the internet for other video not on video.yahoo.com", said Jon Gisby, Vice President, Media and Communications, Yahoo! Europe.
Responsible for the delivery and content of services like Yahoo! News, Sport, Finance, Games, Movies and Community, he is also the European lead for Yahoo!'s communications products.
So what next we asked? More of the same it seems with Video still proving too early a technology to really know how to deal with it from both a content providing point of view and a monetisation side.
Yahoo! says it is planning a number of advertising revenue opportunities with video from presenting people with an advert before a video to general sponsorship of a channel or category. But the days of pulling out relevant advertising based automatically on subjects that are talked about within the footage is a long way off.
"There are hundreds of PhDs around the world trying create algorithms to analysis images and video automatically. Until then we, like Flickr already does, have to rely on people associating tags to pictures or video for advertising to work effectively", said Marcom. "One solution is based on a members profile or collectively storing images around a certain subject. That way, while we can't see what images or video users are looking at we do know from pre answered questions how old or what there interests are."
Called behavioural, essentially it is targeted advertising based on consumer interest.
It has been prevalent in the US for a couple of years but is now coming to the UK for the first time.
"Yahoo! has been offering behavioural targeting capabilities in the US for the past 3 years. These services will soon be launching in the UK and we will have the same ability to track and segment a huge number of users across our search, shopping and portal properties", says Blake Chandlee, commercial director, Yahoo! UK & Ireland and the below is an explanation from him around what Yahoo! is doing around behavioural targeting. "For example, when you start to understand what car buyers look like over two years across 500m people, what they're searching for and how they interact with ads, you get a much deeper understanding of consumers."
"This vast amount of data combined with knowledge of category purchase cycles and their associated behaviour allows us to serve the right ad to the right consumer at the right time."
But once again the Internet giant that employs over 11,000 people isn't hoping this or its "delayed" new search service will keep the fresh new start-ups at bay.
So how is Yahoo planning on staying ahead of the game? Through converging its five key areas within the company; search, commerce, connected life, messenger and mail, and communities and then providing them in a complete package to the end user.
Provide a story, allow people to comment on it send it to friends and then go through the cycle again.
It's of course where the first hurdle will be met - conveniently sharing that information with people on similar social networking networks.
"Who you are and what you've created will become even more important over the next couple of years", says Marcom boldly. "Users will not want to have to go through the process over and over again."
The solution? Greater inoperability, Yahoo has already started the path to this with the announcement earlier this year that it had joined forces with Microsoft to allow its Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger members to communicate across the two platforms with each other, however according to Marcom, this is just the start.
So, it seems the future is communities that have the ability to talk to each other freely.
It's a utopian notion and one that has failed in virtually every other area of consumer electronics however. You only have to look at the Blu-ray/HD-DVD format war for movies or the numerous formats and restrictions on music downloads to see that companies don't like sharing.
Talking to John Marcom and Jon Gisby, Yahoo! clearly hopes that in 5 years with its billion members it will be in the best position it can be to not have to worry.