Yahoo will stop letting people sign into its services with their Google or Facebook credentials, in a move that carries both symbolic and financial implications for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s attempts to re-boot the struggling Internet pioneer.
In coming months, Yahoo will require users to sign in with a Yahoo account when they want to access services like Flickr or Fantasy Sports. As first reported by Reuters’ Alexei Oreskovic, the company plans to phase out its practice of accepting user names and passwords from two of its biggest online rivals.
“This new process, which now asks users to sign in with a Yahoo username, will allow us to offer the best personalized experience to everyone,” a spokeswoman told Silicon Beat. She added that Yahoo is streamlining its sign-in process to include a single account and password for all Yahoo products, which is what Google does with its services. (SEE UPDATE BELOW.)
Google and Facebook have long encouraged other websites to accept their users’ sign-in credentials. That helps those sites get more visitors, by eliminating the “friction” of signing in with a different account. As others have noted, this also helps Google and Facebook promote their own brands and gain data about their users’ travels around the web, which can provide valuable insight for delivering ads.
Yahoo is now putting its own brand first, by reversing a practice that started under former CEO Carol Bartz. Perhaps more importantly, in a financial sense, Mayer is also asserting Yahoo’s control over users’ data by not sharing it with her rivals. That could help Yahoo deliver more personalized advertising along with other services.
Despite her initial efforts to overhaul the company and create new online services for users, Mayer has struggled to turn around Yahoo’s ad business. But the sign-in change follows some other recent initiatives that suggest she isn’t giving up:
Last month, she announced a new program for selling mobile search and display ads. And this week, Ad Age is reporting that Yahoo has begun testing new mobile “app install” ads – or ads that users can click to install new apps on their phones or tablets. Those ads have been lucrative for Facebook and helped that company build a thriving mobile business.
UPDATE: After we asked, a Yahoo spokeswoman said the company’s streamlined log-in plans won’t require a Yahoo account to sign into Tumblr, which has continued to operate autonomously since Yahoo acquired the social blogging service last year.