Facebook and Google dominate digital advertising, but Verizon wants to change that. Like many telcos, Verizon desperately wants to own more of the content that flows through its wired and wireless connections. It also has been building an online-advertising empire, from its acquisition of AOL in through its purchase of Yahoo, which closed earlier this year. But it has a long way to go to catch up with the big two, as revealed by the company's quarterly earnings report Thursday.
It was the first full quarter since the Yahoo acquisition closed and the first time Verizon disclosed revenue from Oath, the subsidiary formed by mashing AOL and Yahoo together. It was a good quarter overall for Verizon. The company posted adjusted earnings of 98 cents per share on revenue of $ billion, beating analyst expectations. About $2 billion of that revenue came from Oath.
That’s not chump change, and it beat the company's internal expectations, according to the earnings announcement. To put it in perspective, though, Google reported $ billion in advertising revenue in its last earnings report, and Facebook reported $ billion. By Pivotal Research's estimate, Google and Facebook controlled about 77 percent of the digital advertising market last year, and nearly all of the growth. According to a report by Zenith, the duo accounted for more than 19 percent of global ad spending, topping traditional media companies including Disney, Comcast-NBC, and CBS.
Oath is hoping there's room for a third option beyond the big two. "We think there's a very real place in this marketplace for an alternative," Oath chief revenue officer John DeVine says. "There's a combination of things, frankly, that have made us feel a lot of support from the advertisers."
DeVine says the company's brandswhich include Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, the Huffington Post, Tumblr, Flickr, TechCrunch, and Engadgethave an audience of about 1 billion, with plans to reach 2 billion by Such numbers are now the table stakes in advertising: Facebook says it has about 2 billion monthly active users, and Google claims that YouTube alone has billion monthly active logged-in users.
Oath also has a massive trove of data that it can use to target its ads. It can tap into Verizon’s subscriber data to learn about, say, a user's location, then cross-reference that with data gleaned from the rest of its empire. In other words, Oath's pitch is that it can deliver personalized ads as effectively as Google and Facebook.
Oath could set itself apart from the duopoly by giving advertisers what they say they really want: more transparency and accountability in advertising. Fake news is a problem, but advertisers worry more about fake views. The Association of National Advertisers estimates that fraudulent, bot-driven traffic will cost the industry $ billion this year. Facebook, meanwhile, has admitted to inflating its own ad-view metricsaccidentally, the company says. Advertisers are demanding more information about how exactly Google, Facebook, and other companies determine whether an ad was seen or not.
The world's largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, gave its digital-advertising partners a mandate earlier this year: adopt industrywide measurement standards or expect the company to spend its money elsewhere. P&G chief branding officer Marc Pritchard stood by that commitment last month in a speech at a digital marketing conference in Germany. "We will only invest where we can prove it is safe, efficient, effective, and high quality, and we are innovating with our partners to move to the next generation of advertising in the digital world," Pritchard said.
Specifically, P&G wants its ad partners to adopt the standards of the independent Media Rating Council, a nonprofit that certifies audience-measurement programs. Oath head of programmatic ad-tech platforms Tim Mahlman says the company works with MRC-accredited third-party measurement companies to provide advertisers with standardized measures of how many times their ads have been seen. Google and Facebook, on the other hand, are still in the process of having their reporting systems accredited by the MRC. If they succeed, and can offer better assurances that their ads are being seen, Oath will lose a selling point.
Advertisers are already looking for the next big platform. Pritchard talked up P&G's work with Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Snap, Twitter, WeChat, and YouTube at the event last month. But he didn't mention any Oath brands.
Verizon is taking on Facebook and Google with its purchase of AOL
Forget about dial-up, the Huffington Post, You’ve Got Mail, or Netscape. All the things usually associated with AOL are irrelevant to its acquisition deal with Verizon, announced this morning.
AOL is worth $ billion to Verizon because AOL has in its armory all the weapons media companies need in ad serving, programmatic video technology, multi-touch attribution, a personalization engine, and other bits of advertising jargon that aren’t remotely interesting to anyone in the outside world. But on such bits of gobbledegook are billion-dollar fortunes made. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.
Don’t just take my word for it, here it is laid out in Verizon’s press release:
Verizon’s acquisition further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy. The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon’s IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses.
AOL is a leader in the digital content and advertising platforms space, and the combination of Verizon and AOL creates a scaled, mobile-first platform offering directly targeted at what eMarketer estimates is a nearly $ billion global advertising industry. AOL’s key assets include its subscription business; its premium portfolio of global content brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS and AOL.com, as well as its millennial-focused OTT, Emmy-nominated original video content; and its programmatic advertising platforms.
The word “platform” or “platforms” appears five times in those two paragraphs. “Platforms” is also the word AOL executives use to describe the company’s main area of focus. A platform is anything other businesses can use to conduct business, with a share going to the company that owns the platform.
Despite—or perhaps because of—its long history and its familiarity to American consumers, AOL is not perceived as a sexy tech business like Google or Facebook. Yet it sells exactly the same thing as those two companies: technology for online advertising. This includes ways to get ads to viewers; the means to count how many people saw an ad, and what they did after that; and the platforms for businesses to buy and sell ads. AOL has also been investing heavily in online video, which is widely regarded as the next major battleground for online advertising.
Verizon’s move is a bid to avoid being relegated to just ferrying data along without making any money from the services in between. What it has bought, then, is not so much an old internet firm with some well-known websites and a few old-school subscribers, but a bet that it will be able to take on the giants of the web.
More coverage of the Verizon-AOL deal
NEW YORK--As Verizon Communications looks for ways to differentiate itself from its cable and satellite TV competitors, the phone company is adding new social-networking widgets as part of a broader plan to create a Widget Bazaar for its Fios TV service.
The Widget Bazaar is essentially a scaled down version of the increasingly popular wireless application stores that are hitting the market these days. Unlike the virtual application stores being developed for wireless handsets, Verizon's Widget Bazaar will not be open to a wide range of developers, and the company will retain complete control over what applications are in the Bazaar.
Instead Verizon will provide its software development kit only to a select group of developers, and the applications will be tested and verified for use. So instead of thousands of apps available for download, Fios TV customers will likely eventually see hundreds of lighter-weight widget apps, said Shawn Strickland, vice president of video solutions for Verizon Communications.
The idea behind the Widget Bazaar is to give TV viewers more ways to engage with the TV content they view. And it will offer advertisers, marketers and content owners another way to connect with viewers.
"We are not trying to re-create the PC experience on the TV," Strickland said during a demonstration of the new features at Verizon's headquarters in Manhattan. "We're trying to enhance the TV viewing experience."
Verizon has already been offering some widgets as part of its Fios TV service. The company first launched these one-click Internet-based applications to provide news headlines and weather to its TV viewers. Then it added widgets to allow viewers to see what other people in their vicinity are viewing and to help them discover popular TV shows.
Now the company is adding widgets for the popular social-networking Web sites Twitter and Facebook. At least initially, each of these applications will only allow users to read and access information. Posting new information will be very limited in the first version of the widgets, Strickland said. This means that users will be able to read updates on Twitter and Facebook, but they won't be able to update their accounts from their TVs.
In its first version the Twitter widget will offer a more generic Twitter experience. Subscribers won't be able to access their individual Twitter accounts. Instead they will be able to see tweets from the entire Twitter community based on either a category or topic they've selected or based upon what they're currently watching on TV. The way it works is that the screen is split into two sections. And on one side a small window plays the video, while on the other side of the screen, the tweets fill up the screen.
The Twitter feed could come in handy while watching a live event, like a baseball game or the presidential inauguration, Strickland said. For example, if a Fios TV subscriber is watching the Yankees baseball game, he can continue watching the game while also following a Twitter feed about the game or the team.
Because the Twitter feed comes from the entire Twitter community, it's not necessary for viewers to even have their own Twitter account. Eventually, Fios TV subscribers will be able to access their own Twitter accounts to tailor the tweets they view from the Fios TV service.
The Facebook widget works in a similar way. Fios TV viewers can continue watching a TV show while accessing their Facebook account on the other half of the screen. When in the Facebook application, Fios TV subscribers can view status updates, photos, and other posted items from their friends or from their own page. Since the application allows pictures to be blown up on a big screen TV, Strickland believes that sharing pictures with friends and family from Facebook will become one of the primary uses of the Facebook Widget.
Unlike the Twitter Widget, which doesn't allow any updates or posts from the TV, the Facebook widget allows users to update their status based on what they are watching on TV. But other updates aren't possible in this first version of the software.
Strickland emphasized again that Verizon is not trying to replicate the Facebook experience from the Web on the TV. But he said that other features and functions will be added down the road. For example, in its first release, the Facebook Widget only allows one user account to be accessed per set-top box. In a few weeks, the application will allow multiple Facebook members to view their profiles and their friends' profiles from a single set-top box.
"We are not trying to re-create Facebook or Twitter for the TV," he said. "Viewers don't want to take time out from their TV. But we are trying to bring these social-networking applications to the mass market in a way that enhances their TV experience."
These two new widgets are just the beginning of what Verizon plans to do with the Widget Bazaar and the Fios TV service in general. The company also plans to add online video viewing to the Fios TV service. Later this month, Fios TV subscribers will be able to search for and view videos from sites such as DailyMotion.com, Veho, and BlipTV. These videos are mostly user-generated or are from independent sources. While Verizon has plans to strike more deals with other online video providers, Strickland said it's unlikely the company will add access to produced content from sites like Hulu.com or from Netflix's video-on-demand service.
Most of the new widgets that will be released will be automatically pushed to subscribers' set-top boxes. And they will come at no extra charge to customers. But some widgets, mostly games, will cost additional money. Verizon already offers some casual games for free as part of the Fios TV service, and they have been a huge success with many subscribers playing the game for an average of 45 minutes each.
One of the main reasons why applications such Facebook and Twitter will initially be consumption-based is because Verizon still hasn't come up with a really good way to provide textual input into the TV experience. Strickland said the company is considering a variety of options for allowing people to input information and interact with the service. One possibility is using smartphones.
"A lot of people are already using smartphones with our wireless service," he said. "The device has been paid for and subsidized already, so it makes sense to use it for other things. I think this adds more functionality at a lower cost than developing an advanced remote control. "
Strickland said that Fios TV customers should expect to see new widgets coming online all the time. The company has greatly reduced the amount of time it takes to develop and roll out the new applications. And it's preparing to introduce a whole slew of new ones in the future. Some widgets to expect in the future include more games as well as widgets developed by programmers and ones to help enhance other online experiences. For example, MTV may want to create a widget to highlight the top song or music video of the day. And Verizon could also offer an online music video widget to stream services like Pandora to the TV.
Verizon's latest enhancements and the emergence of its Widget Bazaar come as the company turns up the heat on its cable TV and satellite TV competitors. While cable has made some technical strides lately to increase bandwidth and functionality, Verizon increasingly is adding more Internet-focused functionality to its service. Strickland believes this is the advantage that the company's all-fiber network has over its competitors. Because it has near limitless bandwidth, it has the capacity to offer advanced interactive services.
Verizon will begin rolling out the new Facebook and Twitter widgets on Wednesday morning in markets in six states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The rest of the Verizon Fios TV markets will get the update starting Thursday. Subscribers will not need to do anything. The updates will come automatically to their set-top boxes.
Facebook ad boycott for July connects with another big name: wireless giant Verizon
Verizon has joined the list of major companies pledging to halt advertising with Facebook for the month of July to protest hate speech on the social media platform.
The addition of Verizon, the telecommunications giant, bolsters the list of companies that also includes Eddie Bauer, the U.S. clothing store chain, and Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream maker, along with The North Face, Patagonia, REI, Mozilla and Upwork among about companies said to be committed.
The boycott idea was launched June 17 by the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which includes the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.
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“We’ve been talking to a lot of big brands, a lot of multinational companies,'' said Jonathan Greenblatt, president of the Anti-Defamation League. "Verizon might be the first, they’re not the last.''
Greenblatt said he was able to show Verizon and other companies examples of their ads being published next to "horrible, hateful content, and we shared that. And it’s sort of undeniable when you see it right in front of you.''
On Thursday, Greenblatt wrote an open letter to Facebook advertisers.
“Your ad buying dollars are being used by the platform to increase its dominance in the industry at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized communities who are often targets of hate groups on Facebook,'' he wrote.
Other companies participating in the planned boycott include Arc’teryx, Eileen Fisher, Magnolia Pictures, HigherRing, Dashlane and Talkspace.
"Verizon spends millions on a monthly basis on advertising for Facebook platforms and its commitment to the #StopHateforProfit campaign is a huge step in this campaign and is a call for other industry leaders to follow suit," said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change, a civil rights organization, in a statement. "Amid this global movement to end anti-Blackness, we credit these companies for answering our call swiftly and taking a clear stand for what's right so we can hold Facebook accountable for its racist policies."
View CommentsSours: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money//06/25/facebook-boycott-verizon-joins-companies-halting-ad-buys-july//
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Verizon is pulling its advertising from Facebook
Verizon says it will pull ads from Facebook, Instagram
Verizon announced Thursday that it would join a growing number of companies pulling advertisements from Facebook and Instagram in protest against Facebook's moderation policy.
The company told The Hill that it was "pausing" advertising on Facebook's platforms until the company could find an "acceptable" solution to misinformation, particularly from political figures, on its platforms.
“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” Verizon’s chief media officer John Nitti said. “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”
Facebook's advertisers have faced pressure from activist campaigns for months to abandon the platform over CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergEx-Facebook data scientist to testify before British lawmakersA defense for Facebook and global free speechSenate Democrat calls on Facebook to preserve documents related to whistleblower testimony MORE's insistence on allowing politicians the freedom to target certain sectors of online users with little moderation. Zuckerberg said that that the company would allow free discussion around controversial topics. However, critics say these practices amount to an acceptance of misinformation and false political attacks.
A Facebook official responded to the news in a statement to Axios, saying: “We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good."
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefitsBiden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecutedHillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big moneyMORE in particular has been the target of criticism for spreading false information or spreading harmful political attacks online using Facebook's platform. However, the company recently removed a Trump campaign ad after the post appeared to use a red upside down triangle associated with the Nazi regime.
Still, the company has rejected some requests to remove content from the president's campaign that pushed unfounded theories about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in VirginiaFill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecutedMORE's (D) dealings with Ukrainian officials.
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Verizon is pulling advertising from Facebook and Instagram
On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League addressed an open letter to companies advertising on Facebook, signed by the organization's CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt. In the letter, the organization said it "found an advertisement for Verizon appearing next to a video from the conspiracy group QAnon drawing on hateful and antisemitic rhetoric, warning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is planning to bring on civil war with concentration camps and coffins at the ready and claiming Americans are already quarantined in militarized districts."
"We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action," Verizon's chief media officer John Nitti said in a statement. "We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we've done with YouTube and other partners."
According to marketing analytics company Pathmatics, Verizon spent an estimated $, in Instagram ads between May 22 and June The firm said Verizon spent $1,, on Facebook in that same time period.
Facebook didn't immediately return a request for comment Thursday. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company sent a memo from the company's VP of global business Carolyn Everson to advertisers last week saying that it does not "make policy changes tied to revenue pressure" and that it sets "policies based on principles rather than business interests."
"We respect any brand's decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information," Everson said in an emailed statement sent by the company Thursday. "Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good."