The nation’s largest wireless carrier is getting creative with its latest advertising scheme, and its efforts may soon be coming to a screen near you.
Verizon is targeting its subscriber home screens as its next advertising frontier, offering to install apps for advertisers at a cost of $1 to $2 for each device install, Advertising Age reported Tuesday.
Verizon declined to comment to Ad Age for the story.
According to the report, Verizon first floated the offering to retail, finance and other brands late last year. The program would apply to the activation of new Android devices only, the report said. Unlike Apple’s iOS platform, Google’s Android OS is open for carrier customization, Ad Age said.
Though Ad Age sources said the program appears to be unique among wireless carriers, it is not entirely unheard of. Facebook and Google both also offer app-install programs. Where Verizon has the edge, the report said, is in price. The cost of a similar program from either Google or Facebook could surpass $5 per device, Ad Age said.
Verizon’s offer, however, does come with some weaknesses. The report said Verizon’s offering doesn’t guarantee users will open the preinstalled apps and doesn’t yet offer targeting of known customers.
In the second quarter 2016, Verizon said it activated around 9.5 million postpaid devices, around 81 percent of which were phones. The carrier also posted a phone upgrade rate of 5.4 percent.
Android devices made up 65.5 percent of the U.S. smartphone market share in the second quarter, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech figures.
Verizon’s move into subscriber home screens comes as the carrier looks to boost mobile ad revenue and create new revenue streams in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Over the past year and a half, Verizon has been increasingly aggressive in trying to position itself well to snag as much of the mobile advertising and content markets as possible. The carrier in May 2015 announced its acquisition of AOL and immediately followed with the purchase of Millennial Media in September. Verizon also turned heads last month with its $4.83 billion acquisition of struggling Internet giant Yahoo. The latter purchase included Yahoo’s Gemini asset, a native and search advertising solution.
Back in January, AOL’s global head of mobile Chad Gallagher told Wireless Week the company was looking for a way to spruce up its ad offerings through targeting. According to Gallagher, AOL was seeking a way to deliver personalized advertising experiences based on preferences, location and even what type of network a subscriber was on.
Gallagher also dropped a hint about a program similar to the one reported by Ad Age – a customized offering of pre-installed on-device offerings based on the data Verizon and AOL have on each customer.
“So when you are a Verizon customer and you go to buy a new phone, Verizon physically gives you that phone,” Gallagher explained at the time. “And when they give it to you, they have some controls over what that phone looks like, what’s on the phone, what’s not on the phone. And up until now they haven’t spent a ton of time thinking about that. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”
According to the Ad Age report, it looks like Verizon either hasn’t yet perfected the targeted app installation formula or has decided mass installations will be more popular with its advertising clients. But the thought is certainly there.