‘A different ballgame’: AOL dishes on plans for Verizon’s and Microsoft’s data

AOL is assimilating Verizon’s and Microsoft’s most valuable consumer data by the end of the year to give marketers more advanced targeting potential to up to 500 million users, according to AOL Platform’s CTO Seth Demsey.

The newly formed advertising triumvirate of Verizon, AOL and Microsoft will be built on a foundation of data that many think could be a viable third option behind Facebook and Google in terms of reach and targeting potential.

By the end of the year, AOL will have its data platform running, and it will access key user information — first-party data on Verizon customers and Microsoft users — for brands to use for highly targeted ad campaigns, Demsey said.

“It’s a different ballgame because of the level of depth of the relationship Verizon has with customers,” Demsey said. “We know things like addresses, credit cards, phone numbers.”

These are “real, authenticated people,” which has a big impact on being able to measure the effectiveness of ads, he said.

Verizon bought AOL earlier this year for $4.4 billion, and one of the most important steps of the merger is to combine the ad technology of both platforms. Verizon is integrating a program called Precision Market Insights into AOL’s recently transformed ad platform, called AOL One.

“That is huge,” said Sean Black, SapientNitro’s North America media services lead. “You can’t even begin to assume the amount of data Verizon has between its wireless network and broadcast TV with FIOS.”

AOL also said that Microsoft’s proprietary data would be entered into its domain as well.

Verizon has been making changes to its precision marketing program since it bought AOL, and sources have said it will operate more like a “walled garden,” which means it would tightly control how brands and advertisers can leverage its valuable data, especially through third parties.

Verizon Wireless has more than 100 million subscribers, and its FIOS Internet and TV service runs to about 7 million households. Those Verizon customers are just the start of the reach of the new advertising ecosystem that is taking shape.

Verizon also bought Millennial Media, a mobile ad network with hooks in 65,000 apps. In all, AOL is now claiming that it can reach 500 million users, which is up from before the deal when the company touted 100 million users.

AOL is giving advertisers the lay of the land like this: “We’re not just looking at digital display advertising,” Demsey said. “We’re looking at video, looking at mobile, looking at social, search, linear TV, over-the-top [digital TV].”

AOL Brand WheelAOL is pitching advertisers on the ability to plot campaigns that span Xbox, Sykpe, MSN and other Microsoft properties, on top of its own properties like Huffington Post. Verizon also just launched what it considers a premium video portal call Go90.

“This creates a powerful anchor from which they can create audiences with verified data to monetize across all AOL’s owned properties in addition to Microsoft inventory,” said Jennifer Lum, founder of Adelphic, a mobile ad platform.

There is data behind the targeting of the ads, measuring of the ads, and tracking who has seen the ads. It also helps with sequential messaging — the ability to build on the consumer interaction by following up with new messages after one was already viewed.

AOL’s sales team has been talking with agencies and brands about how to design campaigns using all the websites, apps and digital channels in the ecosystem.

“We’re saying: ‘Here are the properties. Yes, they’re different technically on the back end, but you tell us the message you want to do, and here are different options for creating packages across different properties, across different screens,’” Demsey said.


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