Yahoo, Google, Jeeves, et al. seem to offer a new search doo-dad nearly every week, but for some reason, this one grabbed our attention. Yahoo launched a service tonight that allows users to search subscription-only content such as Consumer Reports or the Wall Street Journal. From the news release:

To use Yahoo! Search Subscriptions, users can select from a list of subscription content sources. When a search is conducted, their subscription content appears in their Web results, and is displayed as a separate module above the standard search results. If users choose to integrate this experience in future Web searches, they can permanently add the list of subscriptions they want to search via the Yahoo! Search preferences page….To view subscription content, a user must be a subscriber of the publisher�s Web site.


So Yahoo is indexing the subscription-only content, presenting excerpts of it in the search results and letting subscribers click through to the full-text. (Google News does this with news content that is behind registration walls.)

As it stands now, subscribers typically need to go to each web site to conduct searches. Having this happen from one search box is a time-saver. It’s also a smart partnership for the content providers because their subscribers potentially access the content more often, theoretically enhancing its value to them. And it can expose non-subscribers to content they’ve never seen before, which could ultimately convert them into subscribers.

This is strictly opt-in, so Yahoo users who do nothing won’t see a difference.

“It has that personal search element,” Tim Mayer, Yahoo’s director of product management, told us tonight. “You’re saying, this is content that is important to me.”

Yahoo says that initial content comes from ConsumerReports.org, The Wall Street Journal Online, TheStreet.com, The New England Journal of Medicine, IEEE and Forrester Research Inc., along with subscription content from Financial Times. Additionally, content from Factiva, Thomson Gale, LexisNexis AlaCarte!, pay-as-you-go and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) will be included in the coming weeks.