Verizon and AOL enter customer data sharing scheme for enhanced ad targeting

Verizon is set to up its ad game by combining its controversial mobile tracking ‘super cookies’ with the extensive AOL ad network.

Following Verizon acquiring the media giant for $4.4bn in May, it will merge its Relevant Mobile Advertising and Verizon Selects programmes into the AOL Advertising Network. The move will bring together Verizon's database of customer details and their online browsing data (tracked by the super cookie unique identifier code marks) to more accurately serve them appropriate adverts.

Across the AOL network, which advertises on approximately 40 per cent of websites, Verizon data such as user postal and email addresses alongside device type and third party data such as “gender, age range, and interests” will embolden the ad targeting of Verizon Wireless customers.

Said customers can however opt out of the supercookies – if they directly contact Verizon. Telecom rival AT&T previously shunned the use of ‘super cookies’ in 2014 following a public outcry, especially over the trackers’ lack of HTTPS encryption.

Guillaume Le Mener, head of data monetisation at Tektronix Communications, said: “As today’s subscribers do almost everything on their mobile devices, operators have better insights into their likes and dislikes than any other sector, especially when you include real-time behaviour and location data.

“The ability for users to block mobile ads has dramatically changed the mobile landscape for advertisers, challenging them to find the best way to reach their chosen audiences with highly relevant messages that are perceived as valuable.

“Only by knowing their customers intimately will advertisers be able to serve up relevance and value to avoid ads being blocked, and the key to this is in the vast amounts of user data mobile operators currently own.”

AOL owns entities such as The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget, giving it a substantial footprint in the media industry.

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