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Verizon has made waves with its acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo, which industry experts have pointed to as an investment in advertising technology. But the company is not alone—other telecom giants in Europe and Asia have made ad tech plays as well. Matt Keiser, CEO of email advertising company LiveIntent, has been following the trend and shared his insight with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker on what’s to come.
eMarketer: Yahoo has been in the news a lot following its announcement of multiple data breaches. Is Verizon regretting its decision to acquire the company?
Matt Keiser: The Yahoo acquisition was very smart. Verizon is one of few companies that’s well-positioned to take advantage of all of Yahoo’s assets. They have the scale and intake management to leverage them. What they’ll end up with is a data set for Verizon, a data set from AOL—which they’ve been working on integrating—and now there will be a valuable data set from Yahoo as well.
eMarketer: What’s the advantage of having these different data sets? How can their value be maximized?
Keiser: The advantage is that data can’t be moved from telecom companies to internet service providers without opt-in consent. However, data can be moved the other way. In other words, behavioral data on what consumers do on AOL can be passed back to Verizon.
With its acquisitions, Verizon is getting into uncharted territory. Verizon, AOL and Yahoo have an incredible amount of deterministic and behavioral data between them. It’ll be interesting to see how Verizon brings it together since they’re obviously focused on being No. 3 behind Facebook and Google when it comes to having the data volume for effective ad targeting.
eMarketer: Is Verizon the only telecom company thinking about building up an advertising platform?
Keiser: No, they’re not alone. Norwegian telecom company Telenor acquired Tapad, a cross-device advertising platform. And before Telenor and Verizon made any moves, Singaporean telecom company Singtel acquired a number of advertising technology providers as well.
eMarketer: Why are telecom companies doubling down on advertising?
Keiser: Today, a lot of their core services have become commoditized, so they’re constantly looking for new ways to utilize their existing pipes. One way seems to be getting a piece of the online advertising and marketing business. Using data for targeted advertising is a way to utilize traffic and monetize it. People-based advertising works for Facebook and Google, but everyone is starting to realize that they need data to craft identities and transition advertising from a desktop world to a mobile-first world.
eMarketer: In what ways will telecom companies fuel marketing or advertising technology innovation?
Keiser: There are all these marketing clouds from Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and IBM. They’re all trying to build identity graphs to capture consumers’ identities across multiple devices. Mobile is the hardest data to collect, because traditional cookies don’t work in mobile, and of course mobile is always changing quickly.
But telecom companies have mobile data. Even though desktop is the cash cow today, it’s pretty obvious the future is in mobile. That’s why telecom providers are finding ways to take advantage of their data from an advertising and marketing standpoint.
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