With Verizon's purchase of AOL, its immediate goal will be to combine its customer data with AOL's to serve ads with better targeting capabilities. That's just for starters, said Will Margiloff, CEO of IgnitionOne. There's set-top box, mobile, and digital telephone data. If you start to think about the amount of data the two companies will combine, it becomes mind-boggling.
Let's say someone watching a variety of home-improvement television shows visited Home Depot, Margiloff said, and then went back to search on Google. That would produce mounds of data. The platform could dynamically serve an ad with a discounted price to drive in-store traffic or ecommerce conversion. "I'm not saying the two are there yet, but perhaps that's one promise of the [acquisition]," he said.
The data also will also help companies make informed decisions when bidding on targeted advertisements. The question becomes whether Verizon will have the ability to "cross the chasm between set-top, mobile and PC advertising, and connect the dots," Margiloff said.
Verizon's large footprint of U.S. subscribers across multiple screens, and AOL's valuable advertising technology assets, such as the programmatic platform, could give the duo an interesting opportunity for search marketers if the merger properly makes use of their complementary assets, but there may be some hurdles, according to Gerry Bavaro, CSO of Resolution Media.
Bavaro points to Verizon mobile devices shipping with AOL Search as default search engine, an extension of AOL search functionality across FIOS TV experience and on TV and within mobile devices, and the integration of AOL search query data mapped back to Verizon subscriber IDs and matched AOL user IDs.
RBC Capital Markets analysts Jonathan Atkin and Brian Hyun believe Verizon will acquire AOL for its technology to enhance its mobile OTT strategy primarily with ad-insertion capabilities, utilizing AOL's Ad-Tech platform. "This follows several earlier acquisitions by Verizon to enhance its VDMS (Verizon Digital Media Services) capabilities, including EdgeCast, UpLynk, and OnCue assets, as well as earlier acquisitions by AOL(Adap.Tv and Convertro) in an effort to assemble a unified tech advertising offering," the analysts wrote in a research note. "We believe AOL Ad-Tech platform compliments the earlier acquisitions made by Verizon and sets the foundation for Verizon's mobile OTT service. Verizon is planning to launch a mobile OTT service over its LTE network this summer, including a subscription service and ad-supported content that primarily targets the millennials."