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Web 3.0 & Yahoo! Personal Finance

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 13th 2007

Yahoo! launched its Personal Finance site on January 19, 2006. In this piece, we will analyze the site based on the Web 3.0 framework. The site is a part of Yahoo! Finance and has nine sub-categories. The site provides financial information, tools and advice on personal financial management. The sub-categories of Yahoo Personal Finance are Banking & Budgeting, Career & Work, College & Education, Family & Home, Insurance, Loans, Real Estate, Retirement and Taxes.

Yahoo! Personal Finance provides sub-categories under the broad categories. For example Retirement has been further broken down into four categories, which includes A) 401(K), 403(b) and IRA B) Planning for Retirement, C) After You’ve Retired and D) Estate Planning and provides a better context to a person who is looking for retirement planning. Yahoo! has not clubbed Stocks, Mutual Finds, Bonds, Research under Personal Finance but has included them under Investing as it appeals to a much broader financial community rather than only those who are concerned with personal finance.

Content has always been Yahoo’s strength and the Personal Finance site is no exception. The website has numerous finance tools, which includes 66 Financial Calculators, Experts, Glossary, Rates, and 48 How-to Guides. Yahoo has managed to differentiate itself and leap frog Google Finance with its Personal Finance website. Yahoo! Personal Finance has tied up with 25 partners for assimilating financial content, which include CNNMoney, Lightbulb Press, Kiplinger, The Motley Fool, Smart Money and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few. I must say that Yahoo! has done a wonderful job on the content front.

Yahoo Personal Finance doesn’t provide any transaction, banking or bill payment facilities. However, Yahoo! Finance provides Yahoo! Real-Time Package on a subscription basis and Yahoo! Finance Research Reports on pay per download basis. They could really beef up the transactional elements of the site by tying into banks and brokerage accounts, so that users don’t ever have to leave their site to transact.

Community has been Yahoo’s sore point and the Personal Finance website lacks any major community feature, which allows social interaction or discussion on personal financial matters. The company however has incorporated Yahoo! Answers into its Personal Finance section, which allows users to ask relevant questions regarding their personal finance and answers are given by real people. The Community section needs more punch and Yahoo needs to incorporate many more community features (like discussion forums, SIGs, investment clubs, etc. on financial matters on the various sub-categories) to attract eyeballs and keep the visitors hooked on to the website.

The site allows personalization through My Yahoo, and allows users to customize the homepage to display their portfolio and track the performance of their investments. Again, the Personalization offering is nominal, and could be enhanced hugely. The holy grail would be to offer personal financial advisors (may be implemented via an expert system, or by offering human advisors for a fee). Tying up with private banks may be another way to go, to make their PCS advisors available to Yahoo’s customers.

Vertical Search
Yahoo! Finance allows a decent search function and provides screening facilities, which allow users to screen stocks by using various parameters like share price, market cap, sales revenue, industry, profit, etc. The company provides similar screening facilities for mutual funds, stock research and bonds. This function, however, could also be enhanced to include context-specific search capabilities like college tuition costs for specific colleges, for example.

Business Model
Yahoo earns around 88% of its revenues from the advertisements posted on its website and the new personal finance site has broadened the reach. The incentive, which drove Yahoo! to launch a personal finance site, is the demand by advertisers to reach out to end-users in the middle of making financial decisions. Yahoo had sold out its advertising inventory for the finance site and analysts expect Yahoo to generate substantial advertising revenues from this new site. The website has signed up ETrade, LendingTree, Intuit TurboTax, Progressive Direct, and Quicken Loans as advertisers.

Overall, our Web 3.0 rating is as follows: Context : A+, Content : A+, Commerce : B, Community : B-, Personalization : B, Vertical Search : B.

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No one in the valley knows what exactly web 2.0 mean. How can you skip 2.1 and all go directly to 3.0.

Couldnt help to speak out!

Vijay Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 2:20 PM PT

What valley do you live in Vijay?

Web 2.0 is a pretty well understood phenomenon at this point, encompassing trends such as rich media on the client side (mashups, Ajax, etc.), user-generated content and social media, etc.

Tim O’reilly has written whole whitepapers on the topic. Please catch up on your reading …

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There are many out there for whom personal finance management has yet to start at the very basic level of gaining control over their cash in life via the basic yet crucial tool of budgeting. They are no-where near making sound investment choices because they have not yet accumulated spare capital for investment. For those of us needing help counting our money on a monthly basis there is one relatively new web tool that is making a difference.

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Happy budgeting.

Harei Monday, July 21, 2008 at 9:36 PM PT