Though it is often criticized by rival T-Mobile for being opaque, a Verizon exec said Thursday the carrier holds transparency and customer privacy as top priorities – even at its own expense.
Speaking at an investor conference, EVP and President of Product Innovation and New Businesses Marni Walden said “privacy is very important to the brand we’ve built” and Verizon is careful not to compromise the relationship it’s developed with customers on that front. Unfortunately, Walden noted that has forced the company to move slower than it would like in leveraging data for new ad capabilities following its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in May 2015.
“We had a number of assets at Verizon that we were unable to monetize, because ultimately the path to monetization was ad tech capabilities,” Walden explained. “For the first year, we’ve worked on bringing Verizon data into AOL. Candidly, that’s been slower than I’d like it to be, and you’ll see us accelerate that this year. The reason for that is around privacy and transparency for our customers.”
Walden said Verizon is walking a fine line to integrate Verizon’s data into its AOL platform “in a very responsible way,” with the end goal of achieving “targeted advertising (that) is significantly better.”
In terms of other monetization opportunities that exist for Verizon, Walden noted sponsored data – like its FreeBee program – isn’t really on the list.
“From a monetization standpoint, it’s – with all of the unlimited kind of things that are going on – maybe is not as valuable today in terms of monetizing,” Walden said. But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Walden noted sponsored data offerings are still valuable to the consumer, and are by extension valuable to Verizon as a “customer satisfier.”
Back on the privacy front, Walden noted that the “strategic rationale” for the carrier’s acquisition of Yahoo – that is, scaling its audience into the billions of eyeballs – “still remains important to us” even in the wake of two massive customer data breaches. However, Walden said things are still up in the air as the investigations into those incidents continue.
“Unfortunately, I can’t sit here today and say with confidence one way or the other because we still don’t know,” Walden said. “With time we will have answers to those questions…but we will be very responsible with what we do to make sure we’re getting the value out of the asset.”