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article imageOp-Ed: Valuable insights from the Verizon-AOL deal

By Adam Dawson     May 21, 2015 in Business
The recently-announced acquisition of AOL by Verizon continues to send ripples across the marketing world. Day in and day out, industry observers continue to analyze the deal and share their thoughts through the media.
At this point, enough ink has been spilled by various analysts and thought leaders to bog a person down in minutia. To help you break through the clutter, here are the top insights from industry leaders around the Internet:
Medium.com - Verizon-AOL Merger Means Programmatic Success, But What about Content? By Oren Nauman
Oren Nauman, CEO of Israeli video delivery platform AnyClip Media, hit the nail on the head when he said, “Combining the vast reach of AOL’s content arm with the robust data options of Verizon is a recipe that’ll make any content marketer drool. Although the company already has a beefed up distribution network, adding and holding on to these heavily-trafficked sites will only make this network more valuable. From there, Verizon can open the gates for marketers to use its platform to distribute premium content marketing across these sites. Let’s face it, the days of traditional advertising are starting to fade, opening the door to a new era of extended, entertaining branded experiences. If managed correctly, Verizon has a chance to make the most out of this merger by using their strong data capabilities to deliver relevant, branded experiences across the widespread audiences of AOL’s content properties.”
The Significance: Although Oren praises Verizon’s strong mobile content distribution network, he also criticizes the fact that they may sell off some of the most visited news sites in the world. The way he sees it, advertising is beginning to move away from traditional methods like banner ads and pre-roll video, and moving towards a new era where brands extend the experience and entertain audiences with premium video. He feels that Verizon selling off AOL’s content arm would be a huge mistake, because it has more potential value than the breadth of data it received from the merger.
"If managed correctly, Verizon has a chance to make the most out of this merger by using their strong data capabilities to deliver relevant, branded experiences across the widespread audiences of AOL’s content properties." - Oren Nauman, CEO and President of AnyClip Media.
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Mobile Marketing Magazine - Why Verizon Bought AOL: Mobile, Content, Video, and Identity by Dave Hendricks
Dave Hendricks, president of LiveIntent, pointed out, “The Verizon-AOL merger becomes its own translation layer, enabling reach and frequency across more than 100m customers, and maybe more. New identity-based marketing capabilities will be enabled through this merger, providing Verizon with ‘people-based marketing’ capabilities that have eluded them in the absence of the ad tech and translation layer that this merger provides them.”
The Significance: Dave’s view is that the acquisition allows Verizon better targeting options across its large user base. By merging with AOL, Verizon has significantly bolstered its data offerings, allowing for more personalized messages on a much larger scale. This strengthening in ad tech provides the company with more value to marketers who want to use this data to send targeted messages that are personalized to specific individuals across the 100 million-customer network.
AdExchanger – The Analysts’ take on Verizon + AOL by Staff
The folks over at AdExchanger added, “In our view, Verizon should carefully consider the content marketing equation before offloading its content operation. Through Huffington Post and its sibling media brands, AOL has content studios that create valuable custom programs for marketers. The newly combined company will potentially appeal to even more content marketers because of the vast reach of its platform and the breadth of its data, but a content studio without the editorial skills that currently live within AOL’s media brands will be largely impotent.”
The Significance: Like Oren, the experts at AdExhchanger are a bit skeptical about the idea of Verizon selling AOL’s content arm. They see massive potential in leveraging AOL’s content properties to create more robust offerings for content marketers. However, they feel if Verizon fails to retain the talented writers of AOL’s various media brands, a content studio would be pointless, therefore making the sale the more profitable move.
"The newly combined company will potentially appeal to even more content marketers because of the vast reach of its platform and the breadth of its data, but a content studio without the editorial skills that currently live within AOL’s media brands will be largely impotent.” - AdExchanger Staff
Digiday – Verizon-AOL is about the Past, not the Future by Jeff Rosenblum
Lastly, Jeff Rosenblum at Digiday noted, “Creating content rather than interruptions on mobile devices will prove to be extraordinarily hard. The strategies, creativity, technology and measurement are all relatively new. But if you step away from the excitement of targeting data and simply think as a consumer, you’ll recognize that the brands you love do a lot more on mobile than simply interrupt. The power of data that comes from mobile devices simply makes content marketing more compelling. Interruptive advertising is the lazy route for brands.”
The Significance: Here, Jeff Rosenblum is making the point that it’s easy to criticize Verizon for potentially giving up a huge content play, but in reality, we’re still in the early stages of technologies that make it easier to create and distribute branded entertainment. Right now, Verizon could sell these properties off and be fine, but they may pay for it in the future once the ad industry fully embraces premium content marketing. He realizes that a more creative, engaging branded experience is a more effective way to reach audiences, it’s just much harder to currently pull off than a plain banner ad or interruptive pre-roll video.
As you can see, many of those involved in the industry are commenting on what Verizon plans to do with AOL’s news sites and blogs. Whether the acquisition represented a simple grab for technology rather than content has yet to be seen. The consensus seems to be that it puts Verizon in an extremely robust, strategic position. The mobile conglomerate now has considerable assets committed to video delivery and content distribution, and how they utilize that will be a good indicator of the future of ad tech.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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