“Change always generates a reaction. We have seen positive and negative reactions to the logo change – not just in India, but globally. This is only to be expected when you change an iconic brand after 18 long years. For us, the new logo is symbolic of a renewed sense of purpose at Yahoo. We updated the logo to better reflect the energy and direction of the company and to align with our more sophisticated design aesthetic.” Stated Nitin Mathur Senior Director and Head of Marketing, India and South East Asia Yahoo!
In an interaction with MediAvataar India, Nitin discussed the renewed vigor of the brand along with why India is special and blazing as a market. Here is the Q&A ….
MediAvataar: Recently Yahoo reported 29000 data requests from governments, please tell us about it.
Nitin: We take our users’ privacy seriously. Our goal in issuing the Transparency report is to be as transparent as possible with our users around the world around government requests for their data that we receive. We also recognize our role as a global company in promoting freedom of expression wherever we do business. This is the first edition of our transparency report, and we plan to refresh this report every six months.
The transparency report details data requests made between January and June 2013 by governments of 17 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe, as per Yahoo’s first Transparency Report released recently. The governments include US, UK Canada, Australia, Germany, France and India, among others. These are the countries in which Yahoo has a legal entity, and therefore, government agencies in these countries can potentially seek and obtain user data through compulsory legal process.
The data sought could be anything that our users create, communicate, and store on or through our services.
It is pertinent to point out that Yahoo has joined no program to volunteer user data to governments. Our legal department demands that government data requests be made through lawful means and for lawful purposes. We regularly push back against improper requests for user data, including fighting requests that are unclear, improper, overbroad or unlawful. In addition, we mounted a two-year legal challenge to the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and recently won a motion requiring the U.S. Government to consider further declassifying court documents from that case.
MediAvataar: “India made an average of 8 user data requests daily to Yahoo”, why do you think this happens?
MediAvataar: Why a global makeover now, after 18 years?
Nitin: Over the past year, there's been a renewed sense of purpose and progress at Yahoo, and we want everything we do to reflect this spirit of innovation. Yahoo’s vision is to make users daily habits inspiring and entertaining. To this end, we have launched several new products and refreshes to deliver more modern, intuitive and personalized experiences to our users. In terms of traffic, one of our clear milestones was to arrest the decline in traffic of the last few years, and achieve a crossover. And that’s exactly what we did in June 2013. We have seen a jump in the number of users - in about a year, it has grown from 700 million to 800 million. We now have around 350 million mobile users, up from 200 million in less than a year’s time. Clearly, the pace at which we are innovating has increased manifold. We have refreshed Mail, Flickr, launched beautiful new apps like Weather for iOS and Android, an awesome ‘unboxed’ mail for tablet experience and innovative advertising formats like the Stream ads.
While the company is rapidly evolving, our logo -- the essence of our brand -- should too. We heard from our users and employees that our logo could better reflect the renewed energy and focus of the company. The refinement of the logo reflects our mission of delivering beautiful and inspiring products and experiences. We also wanted the logo to reflect how creative and fun Yahoo really is.
MediAvataar: What were the thoughts behind this subtle renovation?
Nitin: The new logo design keeps many of Yahoo's traditional logo elements. The color scheme remains purple, the letters capitalized and, perhaps most important, the exclamation mark is still there. But there is a distinct modernization in the new logo - it no longer has serifs and each letter is thinner and taller than before. Additionally, we went with a chiseled look for each letter, adding depth to the logo. We are whimsical at Yahoo, and the 9 degree tilt of the exclamation is just our way of being quirky and fun.
Yahoo is an iconic brand, and our new logo respects the history and tradition of the brand, while also being a modern redesign that's more reflective of our reimagined design and new experiences.
MediAvataar: Is the company happy with the makeover?
Nitin: We are absolutely excited with the new logo. It respects the history of who we are, preserves the character that is unique to Yahoo – fun, vibrant, welcoming while also symbolizing the modern redesign that you can see in our new products and launches, and is clearly reflective of the renewed sense of energy that the company has seen in the last year. We are very excited with how the new logo has shaped up.
MediAvataar: Please tell the idea behind the 30-day campaign during which Yahoo released one new logo every day.
Nitin: The 30-day campaign was our idea of having some fun. We wanted to celebrate the logo change along with all our users, and the 30 days of logos is a fun way to showcase our creative process to our users and get them excited about what’s to come. As a part of this campaign, every day of the 30-day period saw a new logo option on our homepage and throughout our network in the U.S. Its really a very Yahoo way of having fun while we geared up to change our iconic logo.
MediAvataar: Indian Ad world finds new Yahoo logo 'insipid'- Your thoughts on the same.
Nitin: Change always generates a reaction. We have seen positive and negative reactions to the logo change – not just in India, but globally. This is only to be expected when you change an iconic brand after 18 long years. For us, the new logo is symbolic of a renewed sense of purpose at Yahoo. We updated the logo to better reflect the energy and direction of the company and to align with our more sophisticated design aesthetic.
MediAvataar: How are you planning to widen the company's appeal among its consumers in India? What is the marketing strategy employed this year? Are the expected results coming through?
Nitin: Yahoo’s vision is to make users daily habits inspiring and entertaining. India is very important for Yahoo – particularly from an audience perspective. Today, we reach over 60 percent of the Internet audience in the country. Our content sites like Cricket, Finance, News, Lifestyle and OMG, are hugely popular and the Yahoo network has seen 3X growth in a little over 2 years. Our communication properties like Mail, Messenger and Flickr are in the top 3 in their respective categories. The mobile traffic to the Yahoo network in India has jumped by over 54 percent in the last one year. It is a clear indication that we are delivering on our focus on mobile.
Yahoo is a personalization company – we are focused on making daily habits of users inspiring and entertaining. We believe that will make our users more engaged, and also bring in new users. . What makes India even more exciting is that it is a market of young users – people who are perpetually plugged in, who use more than one device, and for whom the mobile phone is a connection to their own world. Mail, Search, Photosharing are important activities, as is their desire for entertainment content. We are positioned to engage with these users on all these fronts – our entertainment properties bring cricket, celebrities and videos closer to this young audience; while products like the new Flickr place the photograph at the centre of the experience and allow users to store as many photos as they want to with a 1 Terabyte free storage. As you know, our focus is to get mobile-first products to the market. We are building not just some award winning apps like the Weather, but are also focused on going deeper and delivering wow mobile experiences.
MediAvataar: How is yahoo looking at India post the makeover in the coming years?
Nitin: India is an incredibly important emerging market for Yahoo. For two reasons – one is the size of the Internet population, it has today crossed over a 100 million and is estimated to reach over 230 miilion by 2015; and the second is that majority users are young, between 15-24 years. It makes this market very exciting for us – and we definitely want to grow our engagement with users here.
Our strong focus on Mobile is a core vector in India, focused on communications, entertainment & sports. You’ve seen how India has taken to mobile, across cities and towns. In urban India, the move towards smartphones and connected devices has been tremendous. Yahoo’s vision is to make our users’ daily habits more inspiring and entertaining, and to that end offering rich, cross-screen experiences is a game changer in India. Take Yahoo Cricket as an example. This property is available as native apps across iOS, Android and Windows 8. The experience that you get through the apps is rich and immersive. Be it match commentary, live scorecards and beautiful visuals – these apps keep you connected to the game. In the last one year, Yahoo Cricket has seen a 3X growth in its mobile traffic. It just goes to show that we need to continue with the momentum on the platform shift that is taking place in this country.
The Yahoo network overall sees around 50 percent of its traffic come in via mobile; and this number is likely to increase in the near future.
On advertising front, digital is still playing catch-up to more conventional forms of advertising in India. Today, spend on digital is a slim slice of the overall ad spend pie – not more than 5-7 percent. This shows tremendous potential – waiting to be unlocked – given the global average stands at 20 percent. We are seeing brands making slow but deliberate moves towards digital. Yahoo is focusing on creating holistic digital brand solutions, so that advertisers are able to tap the potential of the medium beyond just a bunch of banner ads. As this momentum picks up further, we are definitely going to see a lot more happening in digital advertising in India.
MediAvataar: Video consumption is high in India. What are Yahoo’s ambitions in this front?
Nitin: Online video consumption is definitely on the rise in India. We believe our strength lies in offering original, premium, licensed content to users which is directly sourced from content producers. Yahoo Screen which is the third most visited video destination in India today, offers premium original content across different genres News, Sports, Lifestyles, Movies, Celebrities amongst others – sourced from over 40 content partners. You will find the destination uncluttered, easy to navigated, and completely free from any pirated content. Content discovery is easy, as it is editorially programmed to surface the most popular and interesting videos. The destination uses adaptive framing technology to support users connecting with low bandwidth to be able to view the videos without buffering.
Video is not limited to only Yahoo Screen, it is integrated a horizontal experience across all our properties, as it is a highly engaging format. We will continue to invest in delivering engaging, immersive experiences for our users in India.
MediAvataar: What is Yahoo’s mobile strategy for Indian market and its offerings for the new age connected consumer – products, apps, key mobile.
Nitin: Mobile Internet is rapidly growing in India, and mobile apps are a natural outcome of this. Today we have around 90 million Mobile Internet users, which is slated to double by 2015. Given that only 10 percent of the actual mobile subscribers base is on Mobile Internet, the opportunities and potential for growth on mobile are tremendous.
At Yahoo, our priority is to get our products and services closer to our users. We are focused on just developing new apps, but delivering inspiring product experiences on the mobile platform. To give you an example, our app for Yahoo Mail on tablets takes into account the inherent magazine-like experience of the device, and offers a totally ‘unboxed’ experience for the user. The Yahoo Cricket app offers a rich experience which keeps the user connected to a live match experience –the app doesn’t just publish scores, but captures every nuance of the game to give a life-like experience to the user.
The Yahoo Weather app, which recently won an Apple design award, not just informs you about the weather – but actually helps you ‘see’ it. With photographs from Flickr’s Project Weather combined with authentic weather information, and beautiful information display – it delivers an amazing, uncluttered experience. I have often found users flipping through the weather app, just to view the beautiful slides rather than to just check the temperature or rain. Now thats the kind of ‘a-ha’ engagement we are aiming to deliver with our products.
Similarly for our content experiences, we are making them rich, immersive and seamless across devices. There has actually been a 54 per cent YoY (December 2011 to Dec 2012) growth in mobile users on Yahoo India network.
In each category, what sets Yahoo apps apart is that they are built to deliver not just features, but a certain inspiring experience. We will continue to innovate in this space, and launch some amazing mobile experiences in India.