1. Verizon To Sell Off Media Assets
Verizon continues to suffer from the missteps of former CEO Lowell McAdam and appears to be looking to sell off the former AOL and Yahoo assets (most recently branded as Oath) in order to raise cash.
Why It Matters
Verizon spent around $9 billion to acquire AOL and Yahoo, two aging media giants from the early days of the internet. While they each had some assets that were doing well, overall they were like slowly leaking balloons, with the amount of revenue they took in slipping gradually year after year.
Like many media assets, their overall value, which took a hit during the pandemic is starting to rise again and so Verizon is looking to unload them and bring in some much welcome cash.
The rumored buyer is Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm and as per the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin and Miriam Gottfried who broke the story, the sale price is likely to be in the $4 billion to $5 billion range.
Verizon has been making different (and smarter) types of media investments as of late, partnering with both Disney and Discovery to offer deals on their streaming services to their wireless customers as a way to drive loyalty. (And as one of those customers I can assure them that it’s working.)
This week, Verizon announced a deal with Vizio’s Inscape unit that will make Verizon Media the only demand-side platform (DSP) with access to Inscape’s ACR data, while anointing Verizon Media as the preferred supply-side platform (SSP) for programmatic ad monetization while allowing Vizio to extend their advertising reach off platform, giving them true cross-platform capability.
For Verizon, it’s a way to up its stakes in the CTV game and boost its cross-device Identity Graph product, setting Verizon up to play a bigger role in the coming cookie-free future and in the world of streaming advertising in general.
In other words, Verizon is looking forwards, not backwards.
What You Need To Do About It
If you’re an advertiser, remember that Verizon’s big advantage is the fact that it has no horse in the content race. That means you aren’t going to run into the sort of conflicts so many of its competitors have to deal with.
If you’re Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s CEO, keep on doing what you’ve been doing. Verizon’s reputation has been on the upswing since you took over and you’ve been making smart moves ever since: to wit, unlike AT&T, Verizon does not provide mobile user data to FIOS TV advertisers. Given the renewed focus on privacy, that’s going to seem like an even smarter move in months to come.
If you’re a potential buyer who is thinking there’s value in some of the pieces of AOL and Yahoo, you’re probably right, but it’s not going to be easy. Unlike say, real estate, media properties don’t respond well to renewal efforts. You’ll need to take everything down to the studs and rebuild and rebrand, and success is still not guaranteed. Yes AOL and Yahoo have millions of current users, it’s just that most of those users aren’t getting any younger and they’re often far less tech savvy than their peers.
Just something to think about.
2. OpenAP Launches A Common Identifier For Linear
Privacy and identity are two of the bigger buzzwords coming out of the TV industry these days. As in how does a medium that is measured by households identify specific individuals within those households for targeting purposes, and, once you’ve done so, how do you use that data in a way that is still privacy compliant in a cookie-less world?
OpenAP, which started life as a way to standardize audience segments on linear has turned its attention to identity now and is rolling out a product known as OpenID that will attempt to provide a common identifier for linear and digital audiences so that advertisers can understand who they are reaching across both platforms.
TransUnion and its newly purchased TruOptik division will be providing the backbone for OpenID, the former providing credit card data and the latter CTV data.
Why It Matters
Linear desperately needs tools like this to prove its value to marketers who are used to digital style data and measurement. This includes DTC brands, many of whom are looking to shift budgets to TV, only to be taken aback by the limited amount of data available for linear TV and that no one seems particularly bothered by it.
The initiative has a number of big networks already signed up—AMC,, A+E, Crown, Discovery, Disney, Fox Corp, NBCU, Univision, ViacomCBS, Warner and The Weather Channel—as well as major media agencies like Dentsu, GroupM, Haworth, Horizon and OMG. This will help ensure that OpenID gets broad early adoption.
In addition to making more digital savvy marketers feel better in general, OpenID will make it easier for brands to use their own first party data to create audience sets that they can then target against on linear and CTV.
While that may not sound like a very big deal, it’s a huge issue for brands who are starting to shift budget to CTV but are not yet ready to abandon linear TV (given that the majority of the audience is still on linear and all.) The inability to do pretty much anything on a cross-platform basis is the bane of so many marketer’s existences and a complaint we hear all the time. So OpenID will make a huge difference and help further grow the use of data and audience driven advertising in TV.
What You Need To Do About It
If you’re David Levy and the OpenAP team, well done. You identified a need, found a solution and got the relevant parties to buy into it.
If you’re an advertiser and you have first party data, this is a great way to use it to target your audience on linear and streaming in a way that allows you to make apples to apples comparisons.
If you’re a DTC marketer and you’ve been more than a little freaked out about no one on linear seems to care about anything other than Nielsen ratings, consider this a gift and a way to leapfrog over all those not-very-data-savvy competitors.