Yahoo Courts Mainstream Audiences With Vertical Sites, Launches Yahoo Food And Yahoo Tech

Add another news portal to the increasingly crowded world of tech news sites, and another food portal if you’re still feeling hungry. Today Yahoo officially launched Yahoo Tech, a new site that will sit alongside Yahoo News and Yahoo Business, providing news about the tech world for a mainstream audience. And it also launched a new digital magazine, Yahoo Food.

As part of Yahoo Tech, it is announcing some new hires, including Rafe Needleman as the site’s editorial director. Needleman, a veteran journalist, was poached from Evernote, where he had initially been the startup’s platform advocate and then progressed to director of developer relations.

But unlike other consumer publications, there will be a catch: no display ads. This is part of a new effort from Yahoo to move the needle and bring a new audience to its properties, and it looks like part of this will include ways of delivering content that present a more unique experience, potentially one more preferable to competitors whose sites are cluttered with banner and skyscraper and interstitial ads.

Marissa Mayer, presenting a keynote at the CES conference in Las Vegas, brought star hire David Pogue, who left a role as a tech columnist at the New York Times to join Yahoo, on stage to talk all things Yahoo Tech.

“In my opinion, the point is that the high end is really well taken care of… But who is taking care of the middle 85%? NOBODY!” (Yes, he screamed this last part.)

I’m currently at the Yahoo keynote listening to them present about the new verticals, but when I was waiting for the conference to start, I ran into Needleman. This is what he told me about the new site:

“People who buy most of the tech in the world are very smart but they are not enmeshed in this world, and they don’t care about staff changes and for the most part they are uninterested in Silicon Valley,” he said. “They want to know what is the best TV to buy.”

As for Yahoo Food, it looks like this is the start of a number of vertical efforts from the company. “Digital magazines are a core part of our long-term vision,” said Mayer in her keynote. The site will incorporate elements from other Yahoo properties, like Flickr and from the looks of it will also incorporate social elements from other sites, too.

As for how advertising will work in both of these? It’s not totally clear. I’ve had a browse through Yahoo Tech and cannot see anything in there that I’d call an ad — unless some of the app articles are actually sponsored content. The architecture of the site follows that of Flickr — that is to say, a mosaic in which, when you click on a particular picture stub, it expands.

My guess is that this mosaic will become the basis of where ads will live, rather than alongside articles themselves. That would give Yahoo the option of putting in sponsored content, but also small, autoplaying videos that will be there when you’re browsing the full range of stories, but not when you’ve chosen to focus on a particular article — which comes across on a clean, white page.