Q&A: Oath’s Revenue Chief on Building Out the Brand of Verizon’s AOL-Yahoo Merger

John DeVine discusses the former internet giants' second act

Chris Loupes
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Current gig Chief revenue officer, Oath
Previous gig Svp of global operations, Yahoo
Twitter @JohnC_DeVine

Adweek: You’re joining Oath from the acquisition of Yahoo. What’s job No. 1 for you in building out the new Oath brand?
John DeVine: I’d say that there’s three things. One is bringing the gears of the team together and making the narrative about Oath super clear so that our sellers and internal teams really understand it. No. 2 has been to take that same narrative and translate it for the marketplace. We’re building a new brand and [when we] start talking about brand awareness, we need to make sure that the marketplace understands what Oath is, why [it] is important and understands the value proposition to the marketplace. No. 3 is that Oath is going to be a growth company. We’re committed as a leadership team to serving an unmet marketplace and growing the company in long dimensions of consumer business and also all the international marketplaces.

What is Oath’s pitch to marketers?
Oath is a valued brand—we chose that name for a reason because of a commitment around trust, transparency and a level of human support. More practically speaking, we bring an incredible portfolio of consumer brands and along with that, audiences. If you’re a brand builder, an advertiser or an agency, you’re getting three things: content, data and distribution. We receive a trillion signals from our consumers over the course of a month. But more than the volume, it’s the quality and diversity of data signals that we’re receiving. We’re getting data from content consumption, from mobile handsets—a million apps, 2 billion handsets worldwide—search data, mail data. And then with Verizon, there are opportunities to blend carrier data into the mix.

From the data side, are all of the content assets linked up for advertisers today?
All of that data is linked [and] allows advertisers to find audiences in context. We’re continuing to innovate. I was just on a call this morning, for example, about our use of location data, and with Verizon that becomes an incredibly powerful force of innovation.

In terms of the tie-in with Verizon, what’s a common misconception for what they bring to the table with data?
The power of the Verizon data is very high and immediately exciting for advertisers. If there’s anything I would make super clear, it’s the commitment to trust and transparency, not only with our advertisers but consumers as well.

How much of Oath is going to be focused on your own properties versus external properties? 
We believe that we have some critically important brands with deep, embedded user bases, and we’re going to see those grow significantly—Yahoo News, HuffPost, Engadget, TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Tumblr, etc. In addition, we work with brands like Microsoft and all of [its] properties from a display and video standpoint. We’re going to continue organically to think about brands that could be a good fit in that portfolio.

You were a Navy submarine officer before getting into advertising. What did you learn from that experience?
The Navy gave me an incredible experience as a commitment to service but also just learning operations in a very real sense and a way to work with teams. So, all of that was foundational, and I rely on those experiences in what I’m doing today. [When] I joined Yahoo five years ago, I saw the opportunity to do something special in the industry and to compete, and I felt like if you were to think about the things that I experienced in terms of leadership, service, operations and prioritization, there was just a really great personal opportunity to apply all those things.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 2, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.
@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.