Yahoo! has been building a social science group in their research division.  In addition to some well-known economists, they have also been attracting ethnographers and cognitive psychologists away from posts at research universities.

The recruitment effort reflects a growing realization at Yahoo, the second most popular U.S. online site and search engine, that computer science alone can’t answer all the questions of the modern Web business. As the novelty of the Internet gives way, Yahoo and other 21st century media businesses are discovering they must understand what motivates humans to click and stick on certain features, ads and applications – and dismiss others out of hand.

However, there are risks when a for-profit company adopts an academic approach, which calls for publishing research regardless of the outcome. Notably, one set of figures from a study conducted by Reiley, the economist from the University of Arizona, raised eyebrows at Yahoo.
…it could underscore a growing immunity to display advertising among the Web-savvy younger generation.The latter possibility would do little to bolster Yahoo’s sales pitch to advertisers hoping to influence this coveted age group. But raising such questions may be the cost of recruiting researchers committed to pure science.