lnterview: Erin Chao, Head of APAC Platforms, Oath
After spending 11 years at Yahoo, Erin Chao was elevated last year as the head of APAC platforms, Oath — the conglomerate formed by merging AOL and Yahoo. Chao speaks about opportunities and challenges in the digital world, over an interaction with Anirban Roy Choudhury. Edited excerpts:
Which businesses is Oath investing in at this stage in India and what is the scale of investment?
We see so much potential in the India story. We have a dynamic mix of media and technology brands, including HuffPost, Yahoo Cricket, Tumblr, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance and Flurry, that we are focussed on.
We have made significant investments in four verticals — sports, news, finance and entertainment. We have strong content partners that include India Today, News18, FirstPost, Overdrive, The Quint, Bloomberg Quint, One India, Arre, Sportskeeda, EquityMaster, PersonalFn, IANS, ANI, Reuters, Bloomberg, Associated Press, Agence France Presse, Getty, The Independent, The Guardian, etc.
How do you plan to get advertisers on board?
What we did with Oath ad platforms is provide advertisers with tools and data to innovate and outperform — to buy how they want and connect with consumers in smarter ways. The suite activates Oath’s trusted data, high-quality inventory and programmatic algorithms. Additionally, the unified DSP offers access to new native and connected TV inventory, as well as unique ad formats that can help deliver creative and impactful campaigns for brands in this fast-evolving market.
In terms of the number of users, what is your India target by 2020?
We want to reach two billion users by 2020. India is a fertile ground — we see many of our new users coming from here. With Verizon as our parent company, we are uniquely positioned to go after opportunities and engage India’s digitally-empowered audience. Riding the massive platform shift to mobile, we aim to put our brands on every mobile screen here.
What is the scope of monetisation for your publications like HuffPost, TechCrunch, Yahoo Cricket, etc? What do you think will boost revenues of web-publishing in India?
It comes down to driving value from deepening engagements with consumers. HuffPost, Yahoo Cricket, etc, are brands that millions of users come to every day. This opens opportunities for advertisers to invest in platforms that we offer through our various brands. What advertisers look for is relevant audiences and insights, a trusted brand canvas, reliability and ease of use at scale. At Oath, all of this comes together — with over a billion users globally and 700 million global cross-device users. With cross-device precision, exposure to mobile and desktop ads can result in a four times higher conversion lift, and we have the data and technology to make it work seamlessly.
How would you define India as a market through the lens of Oath?
Video is another growth opportunity. We are building our video syndication solution for content owners and publishers to scale their audience reach and unlock the monetisation opportunity via advertising. Currently, there are over 15 million videos from 500 premium content owners and 4,000 publishers globally. We are launching this solution in India now to enrich the network with premium India partners. With this solution, publishers in India can access premium video content from both global and local content owners to engage with their audiences, while Indian content owners can leverage our local publisher network to distribute their content locally and globally via our global publishers.
Aren’t ad fraud and transparency teething issues?
Like elsewhere, ad fraud and transparency in ad tech are concerns here, too. We are fully committed to a safe, transparent supply chain for our advertiser partners. With new Oath ad platforms, programmatic access to our inventory with controls helps ensure brand safety and limits fraud for today’s marketers, while creating access to exclusive audiences.
What are your ambitions around your branded content studio RYOT Studio? How do you plan to monetise it?
RYOT Studio is known for its next-gen, award-winning campaigns that have brought brands’ stories to life. I see it allowing us to serve our advertisers here with innovative, impactful storytelling experiences and solutions that inspire users to take action.
By using emerging formats and technologies including AR, VR, and 360-degree video, we are delivering creative and impactful campaigns for brands. With mobile and social being all-pervasive, content marketing is going to be the key in successfully building brands of the future. RYOT Studio combines distribution with purposeful storytelling that drives consumers to act — so a brand’s story isn’t just well-told, it is also well-heard by the target audience.