Verizon’s Oath marks MWC with international roll-out of mobile-first ad units

Oath has kicked off its Mobile World Congress (MWC) activity with the international roll-out of a suite of ad formats, including augmented reality (AR), full-screen native and interactive ad units, as the Verizon-owned adtech offering vies for further ad spend.

MWC 2018 is the first major telecoms trade show since Verizon Wireless closed its Yahoo acquisition, and with the subsequent completion of the Oath merger – of AOL with Yahoo – the US telco now hopes to simplify the process of conducting cross-screen ad campaigns.

In particular, Oath aims to help shake-up the creative ad formats on offer to advertisers especially on mobile devices where almost half of all digital spend is directed, according to the latest official IAB ad spend survey, with many predicting that it will soon surpass desktop spend.

The new AR units let brands launch an immersive messaging unit within Oath properties, such as Yahoo Mail, etc, with brands such as Home Depot having already experimented with it in the US. While its new native ad unit will be made available to marketers within its suite of apps such as Yahoo Sports, or HuffPost.

The new units also include the launch of further utilities in mobile offerings, such as the ability to save coupons to a mobile wallet after interacting with the commercial messaging. This is in addition to an interactive feature that lets brands pull-in content from their social feed into Oath’s properties.

The roll-out will see the ad units made available in major European markets including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy as well as Singapore and Canada.

John Devine, Oath’s chief revenue officer, first announced the new ad formats in a blog post in December of last year, where he outlined the Verizon-owned unit’s plans to “aggressively innovate on ad experiences over the next year”. He added: “Providing a better experience for our users and greater results for marketers is critical, so mobile and video will be at the forefront of everything we do.”

The newly formed entity is widely expected to rival the current status quo of the digital media landscape which is currently dominated by Facebook and Google, which collectively garner in excess of 60% of such ad spend.

Speaking at Advertising Week New York in September of last year, Tim Armstrong, Oath chief executive officer, spoke of how the newly formed entity now has the tools to cause such disruption. According to Armstrong, the vast swathes of mobile data that Verizon is now able to bring to their conversations with advertisers is helping to shift the dial, and win over advertising spend.

“When we started at AOL, we were bringing a rock to a gunfight, but with Verizon and the resources, data, and distribution, and now that we have the scale of over a billion consumers online, we can start to enter the conversation in a way,” he told attendees.

In a more recent disclosure about the changes the merger would ring in, Armstrong openly spoke of Oath as the solution to the brand safety and measurement woes of CPG giants such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble. "If you go through those bullet points, that’s Oath,” he told attendees at a Code Media conference.

Prior to the merger, Armstrong was the chief executive of AOL, and with the purchase of Yahoo pending completion, he spoke to The Drum about what the combined Oath offering would propose to brands (see video below).

This month’s issue of The Drum magazine focuses on the mobile sector with insights on the democratisation of photography and interview with US recording artist Ryan Leslie who shared his personal mobile number with the world to help his fan engagement and a look at the longevity of the low-cost smartphone market in China and India. Buy your copy of this issue and other copies through The Drum website.