Singtel looks to 'unlock value' from digital marketing units

According to its annual report, Singtel posted a pre-tax loss of SG$42 million from its advertising arm Amobee, which has recently acquired Videology. In chairman's message, Simon Israel said that the board is aware that the value of these investments is "not being recognised" in the company's share price and the management intends to unlock their value at the appropriate time.

However, Israel said Amobee has achieved scale, while the acquisition of Videology, a software provider for the high-growth advanced TV and video advertising segments, positions the company strongly for a converged media landscape. Singtel's digital life division which encompasses Amobee and Videology is in the red on the whole, according to its financial results for the year. Its cybersecurity business Trustwave also contributed SG$102 million in losses.

"Part of our digital transformation involved making calculated investments in new businesses that would thrive in the future economy. Building out our digital businesses: in cyber security, we consolidated the Group’s operations and resources into a single global entity under the Trustwave brand to form one of the industry’s most comprehensive global cyber security companies," added Israel.

Explaining the rationale behind the digital investments, group Digital Life CEO Samba Natarajan said that the acquisition of Videology and integration of it into Amobee’s platform makes Amobee one of the first in the advertising technology market to unify TV, digital and social into a single platform. The move is also aligned to Singtel's focus to develop a leading platform for omnichannel advertising.

"The acquisition of Videology and our partnerships with data providers such as Oracle Data Cloud and Nielsen, will help us to grow our business with agencies and our strategic accounts," added Natarajan.

Moving forward, Singtel aims to ink more broadcaster deals such as its agreement with UK’s commercial broadcaster, ITV, to create their own "walled garden” for advertising, exclusively within the Amobee platform. Natarajan shared that Amobee's technology enables broadcasters to digitally upgrade their TV and video advertising capabilities to create value for advertisers, and be competitive in digital advertising markets where Google and Facebook dominate.

Under the Digital Life unit, Singtel's video on demand service HOOQ has also inked strategic digital partnerships with Grab and Hotstar recently to enhance its ability to scale in their respective markets. Meanwhile, mobilty intelligence arm DataSpark, which focuses on out-of-home advertising, transport and telco network planning, has been looking to gain greater market acceptance in Southeast Asia and Australia.