INTERVIEW: Singtel’s venture into digital marketing through its Digital Life business is starting to have a material impact on its bottom-line and proving the group’s strategy to acquire fast-growing start-ups to drive revenue is working. Samba Natarajan, CEO of Singtel’s Digital Life business (pictured), told Mobile World Live earnings had been boosted by the performance of Amobee, its digital marketing business which the operator acquired in 2012.

Amobee’s revenue more than doubled year-on-year in the quarter ending 31 December 2017 to SGD34 million ($25.9 million). Its acquisition of Turn, a programmable demand-side marketing platform, a year ago also helped fuel growth, he said.

The platform enables placement of mobile, display and video ads, which has improved its gross margins and gives it access to a new set of brands, advertisers and agencies: “It’s clearly done very well for us”, he said. Meanwhile, Singtel expanded its OTT video streaming service HOOQ, targeting consumers in emerging markets where fixed-line and pay-TV penetration is low.

It launched the service two years ago and now it is available in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and India. Natarajan said there is a large market of consumers looking for local and Hollywood content at a lower price point than offered by the global OTT players such as Netflix.

While it plans to expand in future, he said for the next year or so it is focused on getting the business model right before rolling out to new countries: “We want to make sure as we’re ramping up our customer base we’re able to monetise it appropriately and build a sustainable business in the long term,” he said. The Digital Life unit also has ventured into the cybersecurity, geo analytics, cloud and smart city sectors. Read more from…

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