What Verizon’s Oath will look like in the Australian market

Verizon’s Oath has launched as a sole entity in the Australian market, with a suite of consumer brands and its own advertising platform.

It comes almost nine months after the Yahoo7 joint venture wound up and a week after parent company Verizon revealed plans to rename parts of the business.

Paul Sigaloff was promoted as Oath’s managing director ANZ earlier this year

Yahoo7 had been operating in the Australia market since 2006, and in March this year Seven revealed it would sell its 50% back to Oath. It followed an ambiguous press release, and a number of redundancies for Yahoo7, across the TV team and editorial.

As of today, the Oath Australia portfolio includes Yahoo News, HuffPost, AOL, Yahoo Finance, TechCrunch, Yahoo Sports, Engadget, Makers, Flurry, Yahoo Lifestyle, RYOT and technology capability Oath ad platforms, which combines the assets of BrightRoll, ONE by AOL and Yahoo Gemini.

Newly appointed managing director, Paul Sigaloff, said while the process had taken longer than expected, Oath would now invest in local content and its local team after the winding up of the Seven joint venture.

“Australia is a really important market globally for Oath,” Sigaloff told Mumbrella.

“The JV had run its natural course, and if you think about what the JV has been, what Yahoo7 has been focused on, it’s been JV brands. But despite that backdrop, there were still amazing brands in the Oath’s house of brands, like HuffPo, and Yahoo Finance and Lifestyle, where with no local investment, we still attract close to half the Australian population. That’s a pretty good springboard to be launching a business from,” he said.

Sigaloff said ‘Oath’ will operate as a corporate brand for advertisers, while publications like HuffPost and Yahoo would continue as consumer-facing brands. And despite the challenges HuffPost and other international brands face in the Australian market, Sigaloff said Oath would be able to differentiate itself through scale and data.

“I suppose the opportunity is Oath’s ambition to grow and to inject life and energy into those brands and make them bigger. And I think that’s the opportunity, and that’s something that we’re quite excited about here in Oath Towers,” he said.

In the coming months, Oath will revamp the Yahoo website, which will host a range of local and international content from Oath’s other brands. Sigaloff said there was a “huge commitment” to local content, which will sit on a new homepage, with new apps and verticals.

“If you look at the number of journalists that we have, that’s actually grown over the last few months in terms of new hires. So an example of that would be Sarah O’Carroll, who is our editor in chief on Yahoo Finance. And going out and having a dedicated team for Finance, as an example, and the same with news, there will be a commitment to local news and Australia-based news,” he said.

The Oath ANZ business officially launches today

“It’s getting that equilibrium right around the immediacy of breaking global news, and then obviously the local slant on that.”

Sigaloff could not give the specific number of local journalists he now had in his team.

“HuffPo’s a really exciting brand for us, and it’s probably been in a state of limbo now for a period of time, but again even with that backdrop, you’ve still got a community of over 1.2 million engaged Australians that have been consuming during that period. So, we’ve focused again on content and localisation of content as well as marketing,” he added.

“That’s a really comprehensive and powerful news network: with Yahoo News and Huffington Post.”

As part of the focus on local content, Oath will look to curate content for users. Personalised experiences will be created primarily through logged-in users, who use Yahoo Mail.

“Ultimately, there are over two and half million logged in users from Yahoo Mail here in Australia, and that is the primary way. But I think what we’re looking to develop over the course of 2019 would be the membership programmes,” he said.

“With any kind of program, it’s a value exchange. So, if people provide a login, then it surrounds personalised content, it might integrate utilities, there could be rewards programs, and basically enhanced features and functions for those logged-in users.”

The other area Oath will focus on locally is the advertiser’s offering. Verizon has a number of brands – Gemini, One by AOL, and BrightRoll – but will look to consolidate all these into one platform, Oath Ad platforms.

“We spent months and months on that taking the best features and functions of all those platforms and putting it into Oath Ad Platforms, which is a really flexible way to deliver great capabilities to our advertising partners,” he said.

Last week, Verizon revealed it will rename the ‘Oath’ brand.

“There’s a consumer group, there’s a business group, and there’s a media group,” Sigaloff explained.

“And, in effect, Oath is the media group, and as you’ve actually read, there is conversation around it being rebranded at some stage. Verizon Media Group, there aren’t associated timelines yet on that. More will come out in the wash, and we’ve got to understand the internationalisation of that.

“On a personal level, I’m really excited by the news just because Verizon is a huge business, there’s a lot of innovation and investment in 5G, in AI, in VR.”

But Sigaloff has no regrets about the joint venture, which he has been a part since 2014 first as commercial director before chief revenue officer.

“Bear in mind it’s been in existence since 2006. I’ve got good friends and strong relationships on both of our JV partners,” Sigaloff said.

“We’ve been a great custodian of a lot of those brands, and I’m really excited that Seven West can get on with their own digital journey, but I think a lot’s changed, and you’ll know this better than anyone, in terms of the media landscape in last 12 years.  Everything is digital, so it seems to me like a good, opportune time to reset and revisit.”


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