Q] You have had a big role to play in establishing Yahoo as a top brand in Taiwan and Hong Kong… any learnings from Taiwan that you are putting to use in India?
I feel excited about being part of this international family as we get to learn from each other… after all, every market has some superpower. One thing that I learnt from the experience in Taiwan is that you need to be hyper-locally relevant. So I can’t exactly take a recipe that was for Taiwan and then try to implement that in India. What’s important is to deeply understand our consumers. The underlying current of each society is very different. Makers is a great example. We have not launched Makers in any other country in Asia Pacific other than India. This is because the Indian society is at a special juncture and it will thus make a huge impact not only on the user numbers, revenue, but also blend well with what our company wants to stand for.
Q] Tell us more about your consumer media brand, Makers.
India is one of the fastest-growing Internet markets in the world. About 42% of the population here comprises women. We realized that our brands are a little skewed towards the male population of the country with Yahoo Mail, cricket, finance, etc., and that too at a time when more and more women are coming online. The best example of women making their voices heard was the #MeToo campaign last year. Also, the Government wanted to encourage more women to come into the workforce. All this coincided and resonated so well with our brand’s mission, which is to help people live a better life, through trusted content and connections in commerce. When we looked at our portfolio, Makers really stood out as one of the brands that resonates well with women, especially in the modern times. So Makers is the right product for the country. It is not just a media site, it is a platform to empower women.
Q] What are the challenges that you face in India?
The market is very dynamic. Lots of players, lots of innovation, lots of competition as well. So we need to be more focused as we are not the only player in town. So, we need to continue to deepen our engagement and innovation so that we can be ahead of the game. Also, we want to integrate commerce more deeply across our sites, email and everything that we do. About 60% of our content has transactional intent or commercial intent. Everything from shoppable content properties to subscription-based products like HuffPost Plus, Extra Crunch, etc. – all of which have very loyal audiences, are for the benefit of users, advertisers and brands.
Q] You have said that you are not like Facebook and Google… what do you mean by that?
Yes, we are not Google or Facebook, we are very different from them. We really have predicted our growth on trusted content, premium content, trusted data and transparency. We wanted to put our customer in the centre and really give him transparency and control. So, we are not just another Google, and we are not just another Facebook. We are premium media with trusted content.
Q] Can you talk of the larger opportunities for advertisers and businesses in India, especially around 5G, where Verizon is on a pioneering path globally?
Yes, 5G is going to be the fourth industrial revolution. It’s going to change everything. That’s why we as a company really bet big on 5G because when you have a technology shift, you are going to see a massive paradigm shift in this world as well. Imagine the bandwidth and the speed on your phone right now, it will be 10 times faster. You can download a full movie in two minutes. You will have a super immersive experience through the high bandwidth. For example, AR, VR is going to be very common. If now you look at the weather, and see just a weather icon and pictures, in the 5G world, if the weather forecast is about a storm coming, you will be able to really see the storm. So, it’s going to change how you experience media, how you experience entertainment, at the same time of course, the connectivity between online and offline sports. We just recently announced a partnership with Renault for F1 racing. We are working with Renault on how to bring that F1 experience into the new 5G era going forward.
Q] As per e-marketer, Verizon Media is the eighth largest advertising platform in the world. Tell us a little about the various advertising solutions you have in India.
Native advertising is our strongest product worldwide, and also in India. It gives you an immersive experience for your content, and that comes in various formats, and it has the most traction with advertisers here in India, as well as worldwide. The other one is our DSP for programmatic advertising. Both have seen double digit growth over the year. Our DSP is world Number 2 as far as overall transactions are concerned. We are very excited to see that in the last six months, our mobile growth has been more than 100% here. India has become one of our top five markets internationally.
Q] Yahoo was one of the earliest Internet companies, but as of 2018, you are only the sixth most visited website globally as per web analytics service Alexa. Are you content with that?
When it comes to search, we partner with Bing, we no longer build our own search engine and by ourselves. So, we have had to make some strategic pivot, but years ago we already decided we want to partner with someone who is going to be deeply committed in the search technology development for the long haul. It has been 10 years since that already. So, this is a long term partnership and so far we are very happy to be working with Bing worldwide. On a different note, we recently launched our Yahoo Mail 6.0 that will reinvent the way people use an inbox. If you think about customer journeys from content to commerce, the inbox becomes a critical tool.