Oath India vice president Gurmit Singh on being competitive on mobile and reviving its cricket app for India

Oath's India vice president Gurmit Singh: 'We believe in creating compelling content that attracts premium advertisers' / Oath

For Oath, a Verizon subsidiary created after merging AOL and Yahoo, India is one of the key markets. It aims to reach 2 billion users by 2020 and, with over 450 million internet users, it foresees many of its new users coming from India.

The Drum spoke with Gurmit Singh, vice president, India business, Oath to find out about how the company aims to achieve that, to which he said mobile was a crucial driver.

"The foundation of our strategy is mobile and we are designing the company to be competitive in mobile. Our first Oath value - “Put Consumers First” - is threaded throughout all of our plans. For instance, knowing that India is a Cricket-crazy nation, from where we stand at Oath, it was also a huge opportunity for us. In November 2017, we re-imagined and relaunched our Yahoo Cricket App, which was previously sunset in 2015.

He adds: "The future of content and advertising is mobile, and we have a unique opportunity to invent and innovate to become one of the global leaders in the mobile advertising space. We are backed by one of the largest mobile companies in the world, we have scaled mobile brands and platforms, and we have a deep and growing passion to dramatically improve advertising for the world’s mobile consumers.

What we are doing is not easy and it requires us to change faster than the market. The opportunity in front of us is clear and we are going to pursue it aggressively as a unified company and a powerful set of brands and platforms."

Brands now need more localised content to advertise in India. This ongoing shift means that tech companies will have to reinvent themselves continuously and will need to constantly invest in making their services available in a range of local languages, often referred to collectively as “vernacular” in India. This is exactly what Oath is trying to do.

Singh says: "Our powerful news brand, HuffPost has a local edition in India and is now owned and operated by Oath. In addition, we offer personalization and regular updates across our core properties offering a better way to consume, engage and discover the quality of content that users come to expect from us. Our revamp of Yahoo India homepage along with updates to Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Lifestyle for India market was our way of offering a refreshed and unified experience to our users."

Apart from content, Oath also offers advertising solutions to brands like Amazon, auto major Skoda, Standard Chartered and Dell. As to how it aims to cater to Indian advertisers and publishers, Singh explains that its Brightroll service is live in India, while is launched its RYOT Studio in India last year, bringing its content marketing services into the market.

"With content being at the heart of everything we do in this business, last year, we launched RYOT Studio in India, a next-generation creative studio offering a premium end-to-end content marketing solution that brings brands’ stories to life. Additionally, Gemini is one of our best offerings to advertisers to drive traffic to their website, raise brand awareness, promote their app and increase their online sales."

Video has grown exponentially in APAC region. Digital video ads have become new and exciting ways for marketers to deliver highly targeted messages directly to the eyes and ears of key consumers, making it a vital part of any successful marketing strategy. So much, that in 2017 the APAC region witnessed 8X increase in mobile video ad spends, as per an InMobi report.

As to how Oath is exploiting this opportunity, Singh says: "With video at the forefront of internet consumption we are ensuring that consumers are able to access video – through superior tech stacks, innovative and emerging new ways to experience video and engaging, profitable content. Content marketing should not only sell consumer goods and services; it should also enrich consumers’ lives and help make the world we live in a better place. With offerings like RYOT Studio which was launched in India last year, we want to focus on human-centric storytelling."

"We believe in creating compelling content that attracts premium advertisers and providing access to programmatic video advertising. Our focus is therefore on building our existing foundation of video delivery such as Gemini Video which allows advertisers to exploit video advertising on native while improving reliability and performance and launching new products to deliver high quality, personalized video experiences online. Our focus will continue to remain in this space," he says.

Singh further believes that Oath is tackling competition from Google and others by being a 'differentiator.' He says: "Oath is a digital and mobile company driving the global consumer brand space. We combine powerful technology, trusted content and differentiated data like no other. Our strategy is to put our amazing brands on every screen in the world. And to get there, we’ll build deep consumer experiences, keep launching new products and services, and continue to grow our partnerships in ways that consumers see and feel."

To further establish itself in India, Oath has partnered with some of the leading Indian brands like Patanjali, a local consumer goods company, which came onboard on Gemini Video. Amazon Prime Video, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Mahindra Holidays also joined Oath in 2017.

Oath also partnered with brands like Trivago, Madhya Pradesh Tourism, Australia Tourism Board, New Zealand Tourism Board, Bajaj Allianz and People Interactive.

As for content partnerships in India, Oath has inked content distribution deals with Bloomberg Quint, India Today, Firstpost, BGR, News18, India.com, Overdrive, Bollywoodlife.com, CricketCountry, Sportskeeda, Spotboy-E and PinkVilla among others. Additionally, it allows HuffPost’s (an Oath brand) content on Yahoo India.

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