Yahoo on Wednesday outlined details of Project Panama, its plan to narrow the gap with Google, including using new tests of relevance to make sure it displays ads to the users most likely to click on them. Until now Yahoo has displayed ads based solely on which advertisers have been willing to pay the most, but since it is only paid when a user clicks the ad, this has led to lower revenues.

Yahoo's attempt to draw on its audience to improve its search services reflects a clear difference from Google's strategy, which has focused on improving the company's core algorithms, according to analysts.

"There's a bifurcation of strategy," said Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner. "These are diverging paths."

Yahoo has already started to display individual users' answers to search questions alongside the results returned in traditional fashion by its algorithmic search engine, giving a hint of how it could eventually merge "social" techniques with its existing technological approach, said Mr Weiner.

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