Thursday, May 14, 2015


Ben Thompson:

Verizon, meanwhile, knows a lot about its users:

  • By virtue of being a paid service, Verizon knows users’ names, addresses, and even social security numbers (gotta run those credit checks!)
  • Because they are a phone carrier, Verizon knows your location, something that is useful not just for serving ads but also for ascertaining whether or not they were effective (seeing a McDonald’s ad and visiting the Golden Arches soon after is a powerful signal)
  • Because they are the ISP for your mobile phone (and for many customers, their home as well), Verizon doesn’t need a cookie or device identifier: they can set a “super-cookie” on their servers to track everything you do on the Internet, and that’s exactly what they’ve done

This is why the deal makes so much sense: AOL provides the technology to target individuals instead of content, and Verizon the ability to track those individuals — at least the over 100 million customers they already have — at arguably a deeper level than anyone else in digital advertising (for non-Verizon customers, AOL’s ad platform is still useful, albeit not as targeted; rates would be commensurately lower). The talk of this mashup joining Facebook and Google to form a “Big 3” of digital advertising is not unrealistic.

Jason Karaian (via John Gruber):

With its stock inflated by dot-com mania, AOL was worth $224 billion in today’s money back in 2000, just before it launched an audacious, expensive, and ill-fated bid to combine with Time Warner.

Nothing about AOL today is on the same scale as back then. In a neat bit of symmetry, the $4.4 billion price tag that Verizon is paying to buy the whole of AOL today is the exact same amount as the company’s dial-up subscription revenue in the year 2000.

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