Byravee Iyer
Jul 21, 2014

Mobile, native ads key to growth in Asia: Yahoo marketing head

During an interview last month with Campaign Asia-Pacific, Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer underscored the importance of reinventing products around mobile. It is clearly a sentiment echoed across the company including by Nitin Mathur, senior director, marketing, Asia-Pacific.

Nitin Mathur
Nitin Mathur

Like Mayer, Mathur says Yahoo isn’t doing anything dramatic to change what already works for the region. Its philosophy is to master products in the US before rolling them out in other regions. Mathur says this has helped generate consumer interest and grow users and engagement considerably.

What are Yahoo’s key priorities in the region?

Yahoo is clearly at an interesting time. A big part of the focus is mobile. We think about what people are doing on the internet on a regular basis – they are checking the weather, sports scores, messaging, reading the news and so on. Our whole portfolio of services is a 100 per cent match. We have news, Yahoo Finance, weather and messaging products - a great fit for where a consumer is spending time. Increasingly, all these activities are done on mobile. From a Yahoo standpoint, we’re making sure these daily habits become entertaining for consumers. We do it by looking at mobile products and reimagining the experience. Our weather app is an example of that. We’ve integrated flicker images, which show you what’s happening at that point. So people are actually flicking photos and seeing weather conditions.

Similarly, news is a simple task, but on mobile, summarization is important. We’ve launched the Yahoo News Digest, giving the top 10 news pieces into a digest format.

These experiences are helping us generate a lot of consumer interest. Over the last two years, we’ve grown our mobile users from 200 million to 430 million globally. We’re making sure we take advantage of this massive platform shift. This strategy gets replicated in APAC and the growth numbers are in line with the global trend.

From an advertisers stand point, Yahoo traditionally was known as a premium display advertising company. Almost half our business is also search, but that gets missed. We’ve added a number of services in the portfolio like native advertising. So from being more driven by point solutions, we’ve got a suite of services and the effort is to bring this in a more unified manner to the market.

What is Yahoo’s user growth in APAC?

Our philosophy is to master the products in the US before rolling it outside. When we launched the intuitive Yahoo Homepage, we tested in the home market and subsequently rolled it out in all markets in the region. We’ve seen engagement has gone up tremendously in terms of people clicking on it. Click through rates are up 4X, while engagement has grown in terms of time spent and page interactions. We don’t break up mobile users by region. But APAC reflects the same global growth and the strategy is to accelerate that. I won’t say the battle is won for consumer engagement, especially because we continue to do newer things.

Can you elaborate Yahoo’s mobile monetisation plans?

We have display and native advertising offerings. We see native advertising playing a big role in the future. This is because mobile is a smaller screen and presents huge challenges. Native is a place where media and brands can exist in harmony. It takes advantage of the form, embedding ads seamlessly. Our study proves that consumers are likely to notice native ads much more than other formats. It’s absolutely the strongest play across devices. Yahoo recently introduced stream ads in this market. We’re slowly ramping it up and our seeing some encouraging results.

Yahoo’s share in display advertising is declining.

What we’re trying to do is to make sure we are rooted in the future as the market is moving really fast. This means mobile advertising, video, search and native advertising. We’re investing heavily on this and it is going to define our future. As the market moves fast there will always be new monetisiation areas. Our success is going to depend upon how fast we bring these products to the market and how fast we ramp it up. That is where our effort our focused.

What are your key markets in APAC?

India and Indonesia are fairly big markets. Singapore is an important market because smartphone penetration is high, so it’s key from a monetization standpoint. Taiwan and Hong Kong are leading markets, where we lead in terms of market share. We continue to market products in Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam.

How is adoption in the programmatic business?

The market is definitely ready and adoption has started happening but not at the same pace as Europe and the US. The adoption is increasing a lot because people understand the benefits of buying audience at scale. P&G recently announced that 75 per cent of buying is likely to happen on programmatic and that has implications on people like us. So it’s picking up and we are ready to leverage the programmatic wave. We will be launching new products that will enable better buying from a programmatic  standpoint.

Video is a priority area for Yahoo. What are some of the things Yahoo is doing in the space?

Top of the heap are custom programmes.  But in these markets we’re focused on topic specific content around video. For example, during the world cup, Yahoo tied up with Jose Mourinho to do in-depth interviews and analysis. That’s great video content. The powerful thing about Yahoo is rich editorial text content and video. When you have video in context of a story it is far more powerful. Whether it is movie trailers, sports or entertainment, Yahoo will always think about video in context of text content.


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