Jeffrey McManus posted some notes from a session about "What Teens Want" at the Web 2.0 conference. Much of it isn't terribly surprising: won't pay for music (use BitTorrent), don't trust single news sources, use the Internet to research purchases, etc.

But then I got to the last point, which hits pretty close to home:

None of them use Yahoo for much of anything (not for IM, not for search, not for shopping, not for mail) except as a sort of second-chance search when Google didn't give them what they wanted. They hate the Yahoo home page because it's busy and weighed down with ads, no surprise there.

If so, this should be a wake-up call for someone...

I'm sure we've got tons of our own research on this at work. But I haven't seen any of it (yet?).

See Also: Teen Panel at Web2, Web 2.0: Conversation with Five Teenagers, and Web 2.0: the teenagers' web ain't the geek web

Posted by jzawodn at October 09, 2005 09:41 PM

Reader Comments
# Micah said:

Teens use Google? Teens use MySpace! Because it gets them laid.

on October 9, 2005 10:10 PM
# Micah said:

(that was a JWZ allusion but it didn't take my html, doh)

on October 9, 2005 10:15 PM
# Jack said:

Not only Larry, but Tapan.

on October 9, 2005 11:29 PM
# ZF said:

Congratulations on your integrity, really, for highlighting this.

I noticed the same point at the conference and then promptly forgot about it because, well, I don't use Yahoo either.

I guess I should thank Yahoo for giving me something I have in common with today's 'Echo Boomers'.

on October 9, 2005 11:59 PM
# Jesse Endahl said:

This is true. I read your blog regularly because you have interesting things to say and I like keeping track of what Yahoo! is up to. I am a teen (albeit on my last year), and while I do use Flickr and Upcoming*, I don't use any other Yahoo! service for these exact reasons.

*It should be noted that I hadn't heard of/didn't try Upcoming until I you wrote about it. I figured that Yahoo! bought Flickr, and Flickr kicks ass, Upcoming was probably cool as well.

on October 10, 2005 12:11 AM
# Charlie Bess said:

I do have to wonder about the diversity of the audience. I'd hate to see some kind of red state/blue state scenario of two ships passing in the night and no one realizing that there are other perspectives.

on October 10, 2005 02:36 AM
# seaside said:

Not just teens. I'm in my 60s, use Google as my home page for its serene emptiness.

on October 10, 2005 06:09 AM
# Ryan said:

I use Yahoo as my main page because it's up to date with the latest news in that small block to the right of the main page. Yahoo's page also feels more lively to me.

on October 10, 2005 06:58 AM
# Dimitar Vesselinov said:
on October 10, 2005 07:17 AM
# rr said:

Great idea. I think all decisions should be made based on what 5 teenagers think.

on October 10, 2005 07:32 AM
# MBDorr said:

It's truly a demographic issue. I had this same conversation with my former boss at Web 2.0.

When I was in college 5-6 years ago, I didn't use Yahoo! either, but as soon as I left, my information collection needs changed. I needed certain information on a My Yahoo! page all day long, and I didn't have a lot of time. It's the same issue with music and shopping. In college, I had a lot of time and no money--of course I'd use shopping comparison engines, Napster, etc. Now? I use Amazon.

There are all sorts of these time/money issues among Internet companies, including craigslist/eBay/StubHub for tickets, for example.

One comment to be gleaned from the teens at Web 2.0 is that entrepreneurs and VCs might want to stop getting excited about products that are really most appropriate for entrepreneurs and VCs. I love using PubSub in SearchFox in addition to My Yahoo!, but my family doesn't really need up-to-date information on a gazillion different pieces of technology news in a given day.

If I were Yahoo!, I'd be mindful of it, but I wouldn't change a mainstream approach (except to update My Yahoo! to be more AJAX-customizable like MSFT's and GOOG's IG).

on October 10, 2005 08:35 AM
# R.I.Pienaar said:

All this does is show teens have common sense, yahoo's home page is a mess full of moving flash ads that slows down/crash browsers and horible colour schemes, its search - even when it was powered by google - sux, at least now they've blatantly ripped off the google results layout, thats like admitting defeat.

I used yahoo somewhere in '96 last for searching, their human generated index was marginally useful then due to the much smaller size of the net. Then came altavista and yahoo pretty much lost the plot, then came google and there was just no chance in hell for yahoo gaining any eye ball time from me.

I use my yahoo id for IM but then most certainly not via yahoo's own IM client due to the idiotic installation procedure that ignores your choices, tried telling it not to install yahoo mail links? impossible, tried uninstalling yahoo mail links via control panel? impossible, its one step above adware.

Everyone knows teens are the hardest crowd to please, they have rediculously effective social networks and they dont pull punches in telling it as it is, they also have tons of time on their hands to find good products and services, yahoo as a search and portal player is dead in the water for as long as they push the invasive advertising agenda that seems to be their main business model at the moment.

Yahoo has turned from useful internet resource to an excuse to abuse peoples personal information, look at the sign up forms even for paid services like flickr, look at the cookies they put down, look at the crap they install on your computer, look at their agreements with the likes of macromedia to distribute their toolbars onto peoples pc's without their permission (ok, so its hidden miles deep in fine print that this is happening, its as good as without their permission).

These tactics alianate clients, it does not attract them, maybe evolving into a viral marketing company (bundling their software with others as if its some crummy spyware/adware) is the natural progression for a company once they've alianated their customers to the point where they wont willingly download their software anymore

on October 10, 2005 09:10 AM
# Joe said:

What exactly does this prove? This conversation was fundamentally flawed--the teenagers on the panel were simply younger versions of the conference attendees. They found the kids off of craigslist? C'mon...what about your average teens? What do your typical, non-Internet elite teenagers use online? MySpace...well, yes. Google...yes. But they also spend a massive amount of time simply chatting away on AIM, playing casual games on Yahoo, and madly clicking through any crappy Flash site they find in their friends IM/MySpace profiles. Product research online? Using Google Image Search for PowerPoint presentations? Choosing to use Google over Yahoo because of the lightweight homepage? These are not going to be your average teenage responses.

on October 10, 2005 09:56 AM
# Michelle said:

I'm curious as to what teens they interviewed for this. I taught at a middle school for 2 years (just stopped in June), and still talk to some of the kids. They all use Yahoo IM and Yahoo email (as in, there wasn't a single kid I came across there that didn't). However they do use Google to search, although some of them used Yahoo. Of course, these were low-income, free/reduced lunch kids so probably wouldn't be included on any sort of panel.

on October 10, 2005 09:57 AM
# Mike said:

I'm inclined to agree with Joe (I'm only 1 year out of college). The news bit especially rang some bells... the average college person simply doesn't care about news outside of random offbeat stuff (whose links spread like wildfire). And while they make fun of the stuff that gets put on eBay, they are certainly NOT afraid of buying from eBay if they wanted something.

on October 10, 2005 10:33 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Joe, I'm not convinced it proves anything. But the ensuing discussion has been useful.

on October 10, 2005 10:51 AM
# Phil said:

That's strange. Almost every teen I know uses Yahoo webmail as their only source of email.

on October 10, 2005 11:55 AM
# Jeff said:

The thing I love about Y! is that you have your full choice over what entry point experience you want. You want a fully personalized homepage? Use My Yahoo!. You want an anonymous, but information rich homepage? Use the Yahoo! Frontpage. You want a bare-bones, search-centric experience? Use If the primary reason people use Google over Yahoo! is the clutter on the homepage, maybe Yahoo! should do a better job marketing that it also has an uncluttered experience.

on October 10, 2005 12:07 PM
# RandomLoser said:

They use Yahoo Chat... i've seen it with my own eyes. Goto the teen rooms and they are packed. No, its not just older pervs in the teen rooms, because i've heard the voice conversations too, and they are for sure teens!

Jeremy, check out my blog when you get a spare moment, you know the addy already :O)

on October 10, 2005 12:09 PM
# wbwither said:

It's funny, because in my teens I quickly became disgusted with Yahoo. Search results in particular, just awful. And I hated the look of the homepage. I knew other people with Yahoo Messenger but I didn't see the point when AIM was just as good and more popular. I got a Hotmail webmail account (pre-Microsoft) and that was that.

I didn't start searching much until Google came along. Throughout college, pretty much the only thing that I found Yahoo useful for was to look up stocks and info on companies. Of course I used my college's email system for most of my communications, as Hotmail slowly fell into a cesspool of spam and poor interface, something I'd check every 2 weeks just to keep the account alive.

Once I got out of college, I needed another e-mail provider. I had a friend with Yahoo mail, so I decided to give it a go, and I still use it today. However, I still disdain Y!Messenger, and I still hate the homepage and avoid it whenever possible. I type in "", "", "", "", "" (the only time I've paid Yahoo for anything) and I never use Yahoo for searches.

That said, I have to agree with what others have said here in terms of how many young people have a Y!Mail account. Seriously, it's almost an epidemic. And all the teens I've ever seen who've been big into chatting (including my sister) have AIM, Y!Messenger, and ICQ all running at the same time.

on October 10, 2005 12:41 PM
# jdragon said:

Actually, I find yahoo's image and video quite good. I'm also a daily user of Yahoo! Finance too. As for search, it is getting better, so it's about 50/50 usuage between google/yahoo for me. I do notice one thing for sure though, teens use and bittorrent to "borrow" music.

on October 10, 2005 03:02 PM
# grumpY! said:

the kids have one thing to say to the internet execs of 2005:


on October 10, 2005 11:15 PM
# kareem mayan said:

Thanks for the link, Jeremy.

Joe--These teens were definitely not younger versions of the conference participants, but they had to select a tech-savvy panel, otherwise the panel would have been a waste.

The kids chatted, but not on Yahoo. There's no reason to think that they wouldn't do product research or search for images using the most-used search engine on the net.

And, no reason to think that the average teen wouldn't use Google over Yahoo--it's simply easier to use and (arguably, I'll admit) works better.


on October 11, 2005 12:09 AM
# Aaron Brazell said:

What's surprising is not the idea that teens don't like Yahoo... what's surprising is that Jeffrey said it. I can fully sign onto that viewpoint. Yahoo is in good hands if they have someone who is like Jeffrey that can take a no-shit assessment and come to the humbling conclusion that he did... and be honest about it with himself and others.

on October 11, 2005 12:14 PM
# Thomas said:

I can't say I am surprised. I am in my mid30s and I use Yahoo for email, message (but hate that email interrupt prompts without the ability to shutoff), fantasy football and rarely Poker (since no real poker site supports Macs). I never search there and completely agree the main page is too busy I usually bypass it.

on October 11, 2005 03:25 PM
# Ian said:

I couldn't care less whether teens use Yahoo or not. Start up Yahoot or something for them. Worry about your financial message boards. How about some knowledge management (i.e. blog functionality) there? What a huge opportunity going to waste.

on October 17, 2005 07:59 AM
# eszter said:

I'd be very careful about generalizing from the experiences of five teenagers. The panel info you link to doesn't even say how these five teens were found. Were they hanging around this conference? That would make them in no way representative of teenagers in general. In general, it would be hard to find FIVE teens who could represent millions of others.

Some of us do actually study Internet uses by demographic category. My dissertation (Sociology, Princeton) was on how a random sample of 100 average adult Internet users finds content online. Although still a relatively small sample, I used a rigorous sampling methodology to find these people. I have also conducted some surveys that look at larger samples. It's true, young adults don't seem to use Yahoo! as much as they use Google for search, although not everybody uses Google. In one study (n=270, national random sample, 18-26 yr olds) 58% said they use Google as their primary search engine while 28% claimed to prefer Yahoo!. These figures are robust for the 18 and 19-year-olds in the sample.

I also consider other factors in how people use the Web and, in particular, how they find information. I hypothesize that socio-economic background of the user matters as do all sorts of other factors. There is at least some research being conducted on this. I did actually give a talk on it at Yahoo! exactly a year ago, but just to a relatively small group of people.

For copies of my publications related to all this, see my Web site: or feel free to contact me for more info.

on October 17, 2005 04:22 PM
# Cassie Gwaltney said:

I totaly agree. I use google 24,7! I would never think to use yahoo. It's so dull!

on October 23, 2005 07:05 AM
# Xnu said:

Well I am in collage and it takes some coaxing for anyone to try an use Yahoo for anything. Gmail is more common now that yahoo mail.

As for news? Well we get news but we use xml RSS feeds from our personal websites for it (knowing some basic web creation seems to be a req now).

Indeed I found this blog fooling around with my link box I put on my site just to piss off Yahoo and Google (both require that they be the only search tool on your site), otherwise I would I don't think I would have found it.

Much of my experience is well, from experience and dealing daily with other students. Yahoo IM, yeah but on GIAM util, yahoo mail, nope Gmail, Yahoo groups, ah they do groups, and for searching there is Google.

It is more than just spare time. Students, all young people but if you have been in school recently you know this, are bombarded by every single credit card, home loan, auto loan, refinance, clothing store, car salesman, voodoo witch, there is selling shrunken heads. And you really get tired of it.
Google No ads = good.
Yahoo Ads = bad.

on December 7, 2005 04:30 PM
# Amanda said:

I'm 16 and a sophmore in high school...I have to say that I dont remember the last time I used Yahoo... if you ask me i think if you want to target teenagers then first of all you need to actually talk to them and know what they want...dont pick kids who will say what you want to hear. I ALWAYS use Google whenever surfing the web...its so simple...I am either looking for something to do cuz im bored or looking for pictures to add to my myspace or IM...nothing fancy about I dont need a fancy home page..Google doesnt have ads or distractions that really we dont care about... just what we went there for....its really just common since people

on January 20, 2006 01:29 PM
# WizeWill said:

There are ALOT of teens who use yahoo messenger and chat, i just wanted to make that clear. however, you are all right about teens not using the acual site. Most teens use google and download music and some use myspace and some blog and most play games and look up funny and disturbing things ( for example). this is the extent of a teens use of the internet. Using the internet for news and current events and research doesnt enter most peoples worlds till they reach college age and older. And by the way im 17 Id say I have some idea what im talkin about.

on February 20, 2006 08:51 PM
# samantha asay said:

hiya yes teens do use yahoo i dont care what u say they do so shut ur mouths and get on with ur life 4 once

on September 26, 2006 05:36 PM
# Matt Conway said:

Hi all! I would like to introduce myself as a 22year old computing student in Bristol UK, and I have enjoyed reading about everyones views regarding Yahoo!

From reading peoples opinions on this page, I can conclude that Yahoo is similar to marmite; you either love it or you hate it! In my case I hate it! The search facility is crap, the homepage is full of crap and moving images cluttered everywhere on the page give you a headache; it looks like it has been designed by a 10year using some drag and drop editor such as frontpage or similar!

This becomes evident when you look at the statistics; Yahoo email addresses are 7th in the list of worst Email Service Providers [ESP] for spammers! other popular free services arrive in much futher down the list!

In my opinion, Yahoo is still regarded as a popular site because older people tend to use it over other sites for its facilities. Whether this is because they actually prefer is another matter; People are stubborn, once they get taught something, they realise how to personalise it to work best for them. Then they get into habbits, so is using Yahoo just a habbit? have they really not woken up to the fact that sites like google have a far better search engine, contain less "crap" results per search, actively remove spam websites from their database; warn the user whether a site is deemed as dangerous and may contain malware or spyware downloads etc... Google is fully featured with amazing little tricks in every department of its facilities!

Regarding some of the comments I have been reading above; have none of these users ever realised that if you login to google [signup with your email address] you can personalise the home page and add news reports, weather forecasts etc... or just have the basic simple search page!

Whatever your personal opinion, Google is better than Yahoo and is used by far more people! It has better features! ...It could be said to be similar to the comparison of cars; Google is a fully feature packed ferari; speedy, simple, to-the-point! Whereas Yahoo is more like a standard people carrier; does the job; big and slow... loads of extra rubbish comes with it!!!

What would you rather??? personally, I would take the ferari!!!

...And on another point! Why have some people quoted that young people just use myspace and such sites? ...People from all ages use myspace, although i agree, yes, primarily younger people, but it is a way to keep in touch with friends, maybe who live in other countries etc... Also, is a good way for musicians to get their music out there; take bands such as the artic monkeys [even though i hate them!] they are now world wide success! just through myspace! I would say people who view sites similar to myspace as youngster only are the stupid ones! There are plenty of profiles from all ages!!!

It is similar to the story "when i was young we didn't have half of what you had" ...well... todays younger generation have the internet, have grown up with it; it is part of our lives! As we grow older, does not mean we will stop using these sites!

I agree also that there are plenty of youngsters though who are the less clever of us and who do sit on myspace for hours on end talking rubbish to people they have never even met! [even some of my flatmates do it] ...I do agree that this is pointless! I only use these sites to keep in contact with friends, very rarely use them to make friends!!!

Thanks for taking the time to listen to my opinions!!!

on November 13, 2006 11:23 AM
# Mike said:

Thats all i use right there...
and sometimes Warcraft and counterstike

on January 21, 2007 12:02 PM
# t.d said:

i don't agree with this. Go to yahoo answer's and you'll find a ton of teens addicted to it. Sure myspace and facebook are addicting and well used but trust me. Teens use yahoo.

on November 6, 2007 05:40 PM
# Eric said:

Yahoo is a peice of crap and Yahoo Answers is a joke. They silence free speech and violate the first amendment on a daily basis. Yahoo is in the crapper right now and are idiots for not allowing bill gates to buy them out.

on February 4, 2009 05:22 PM
# reverse mortgage said:

I'm learning your all posts recently. Very informative and can able to know about the status of google and yahoo. Hope u give more info in future.

on March 23, 2009 10:25 PM
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