Yahoo dumps travel assistant chatbot after just 6 months

Dive Brief:

  • Yahoo’s travel assistant chatbot Yahoo Radar has been completely killed off within six months of its launch, according to Fortune. Users who open the app are given a message to simply delete it, as well suggestions for a list of other Yahoo apps they might be interested in.
  • A company spokesperson said the artificial intelligence technology and “learnings” from the app will be applied to other Yahoo products like Yahoo Mail, but didn’t offer reasons for dropping the app or what Yahoo might have learned over Radar’s six active months.
  • At its launch, the app was seen as a competitor to Kayak, TripIt and TripAdvisor, with the added element of AI to help travelers plan trips.

Dive Insight:

Chatbots and other early AI tech applications are netting major interest from marketers, as they have the potential to automate customer service while still offering a personalized user experience. At the same time, a report from Forrester released in October determined that, while the messaging marketing channel is working, chatbots deployed in that channel are frequently frustrating.

The report asserted that simple chatbots are the most successful, while more complex chatbots — like, say, a full-service travel planner — disappoint users because the tech is still largely rudimentary and can act in unexpected ways. Brands also often do a poor job in setting expectations about the user experience and what exactly a chatbot conversation can accomplish.

Yahoo likely has bigger issues to deal with at the moment than a poor Radar experience, especially given revelations about a second massive email hack impacting 1 billion user accounts. Given that state of affairs, it’s not surprising that users might not trust Yahoo deploying a cutting-edge technology when there are suitable, less scandal-prone options available in the marketplace.

Article Written by David Kirkpatrick of Marketing Dive