Polar Users Have a Favorite Yahoo Logo. Will Marissa Mayer Agree?
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users could manage them with their thumbs. It also meant leaning on large images rather than text. “When you build for mobile, you generally gravitate to images very quickly, because they communicate so much,” Wroblewski says.
Most of the questions people post to Polar are firmly in the fun-and-inconsequential camp: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers? Betty or Veronica? Pi or pie?
But some questions have a consumer-reviews spin—iPad mini or iPad?—and it’s easy to imagine companies paying Polar to insert polls into the app as a form of customer research. The company could also draw on users’ past answers to show them targeted offers.
Those are all business ideas Input Factory’s six employees plan to explore using the $1.2 million they’ve raised from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Greylock Partners, and other investors. At the moment, though, the company is focused on gaining users—the better to build a pile of data that it can use later.
“You can very easily share 10 opinions in a 30-second window, so we can collect a lot of data really quickly,” Wroblewski says. The average Polar user, in fact, answers 40 questions per day. That’s a level of engagement that most marketers would kill for: Wroblewski says typical Web and e-mail surveys garner response rates below 1 percent.
Ultimately, any marketing pitch that can be phrased as a question could be fair game on Polar. “Long term, we could insert something like ‘Do you want $5 off a sandwich at Subway?’ And if you say no, we don’t bother you and you move on,” Wroblewski says. “That’s the big picture here. We get so much voting that we can create a very robust interest profile, which allows us to show people things that they would actually be interested in.”
The A vs. B rating model—which gained popularity on the Web around 2000 at the site HotOrNot.com, and popped up again in 2003 in the form of Facemash, the predecessor to Facebook—still appeals to entrepreneurs today. Toutpost, a recent graduate of the Y Combinator startup accelerator, is using the model to gather feedback about products, with the eventual aim of building a large catalog of consumer reviews. 1Mind is using the model in the realm of friend-finding and dating.
But Polar is holding off on specializing. “The reasons we started it as an open, social platform was to see what kinds of things people put into it,” Wroblewski says. So far, he says, product comparisons are less popular than what he calls “people talking about the public mood and water-cooler type things.”
A soon-to-be-released feature will let users set up small group polls, meaning families or friends could use Polar to make decisions such as where to go on a group vacation. And Microsoft’s Xbox division is testing a “Companion Web” feature that lets users vote on questions that show up in a side panel of the screen during streaming TV shows.
The common theme in all these experiments: making voting so easy you can do it with your thumb. “We’re rethinking the opinion-gathering model for the world of the Facebook Like button,” Wroblewski says. So the next time Yahoo wants to change its logo, it might want to call up Polar first.
Addendum, 2:15 pm, September 4, 2013: Polar isn’t the only company capitalizing on the buzz around Yahoo’s logo change. 99designs, the Web design crowdsourcing platform, recently announced the winner of its own contest to design a new Yahoo logo. The top design, from a firm called GREYdesigns, is shown at left. Personally, I think it’s better than any of the designs Yahoo floated, but it may be a bit too radical for some: In a Polar poll today, the original Yahoo logo is beating the GREYdesigns version by a vote of 155 to 56.
Update, 9:25 pm PT, September 4, 2013: Yahoo has unveiled its new logo, and the answer is “none of the above.” It appears that the final logo, shown here, was not one of the versions previewed on days 1 through 29 of the “30 Days of Change” campaign. The new logo font appears to be a version of Optima, a popular sans-serif typeface designed by Hermann Zapf in the early 1950s.