Yahoo just went where other search engines have gone before. It just introduced a new tool called Search Pad that allows users to save links, type notes, copy and paste web content and to share all that information via email, if that's the user's wish.
In limited release, the tool rolled out to some users today, but won't be broadly available for a few months.
Yahoo's announcement comes in the wake of Google saying it will mothball its own notebook feature. Other players, including Evernote and Zoho, have similar offerings, as does Ask.com. Oh, and Microsoft is testing Thumbtack. It's a trend!
Search Pad makes itself know in the search interface when the underlying technology detects a user is conducting research. This could be academic, of course, but the bigger implications for marketers involve researching a purchase, particularly high-consideration buys like travel, a new car or a new computer.
Yahoo's not saying so yet, but Search Pad has strong implications as an additional source of behavioral ad targeting data. Saved search notes are kept under the user's Yahoo ID. This theoretically enables Yahoo to know an individual user is shopping for, say, a laptop, and which brands and models are in her consideration set. The tool's functionality had a reach beyond Yahoo's own search engine. The company says it can capture ongoing research a searcher might do on a site such as Amazon and add selected pages to a user's notes.
The only question is, will users use it? Similar tools have met with tepid receptions and very low adoption rates.
Yahoo has posted a short video describing Search Pad's functionality.