Oath consolidates BrightRoll, One by AOL and Yahoo Gemini to ‘simplify’ adtech service

Oath has consolidated its adtech offering into a new unit dubbed Oath Ad Platforms

Oath has made good on its pledge to simplify its ad tech services and consolidate its multiple DSPs by launching a single advertising proposition dubbed Oath Ad Platforms.

As first revealed by The Drum last year, the media and technology business had made it a priority to amalgamate the array of adtech propositions it inherited when AOL and Yahoo were brought under its umbrella in June 2017.

So from today out go the BrightRoll, One by AOL and Yahoo Gemini brands and in comes Oath Ad Platforms, a streamlined suite of advertising and publishing services operating with one unified DSP.

Stuart Flint, Oath’s vice president for EMEA, said the move was more than just a “rebrand”, pointing to the introduction of new native and connected TV inventory as evidence that it was improving its offering for clients.

“This is not just a quick ‘shove it all together and call it something else and hopefully the market will buy into it’,” Flint told The Drum. “This is a full remodel.”

Oath’s previous adtech offering had been too “complex”, he admitted, and advertisers had been yearning for a more “simplified” solution.

“You would find it complex if you had that many DSPs,” Flint said. “And BrightRoll and One by AOL and Gemini… What does that all mean? How do I buy that? I feel very happy going out with this streamlined solution. That's what people want to hear, that's what they want to buy.”

What the new proposition looks like

The DSP connects to over 40 global exchanges and offers access to inventory across AOL, Yahoo, MSN and Oath’s other owned and operated properties. In addition to display and video inventory, advertisers can now also target native and connected TV through the DSP.

A native and search marketplace “allows marketers to feature their ads in a way people want to see them”. The platform includes Oath’s AR, 3D, Tiles and Mobile Moments experiences as well as newly launched e-commerce formats Countdown and Mobile Wallet, which allow consumers to shop from their mobile device.

And then there is Oath Ad Platforms for Publishers, a toolset granting access to Oath’s advertisers through revenue and video management services. An Oath Ads SDK is expected to roll out in 2019, the company said.

Where Oath goes from here

Oath’s advertising restructure comes in the wake of several recent high-profile headlines about the firm, which is owned by US telecoms giant Verizon.

Reports emerged earlier this summer that Tim Armstrong, the former AOL chief executive who now holds that post at Oath, was exploring the possibility of buying the firm out of its parent company.

Such an audacious move seems unlikely now, however, following widespread speculation over the weekend that Armstrong is in talks with Verizon to leave the business.

Flint spoke to The Drum before the Armstrong news surfaced but stressed there was no sign internally that Verizon was preparing for a sale. On the contrary, Flint said, Verizon had invested “brainpower” to help the advertising restructure.

“We’re planning how to accelerate from here,” Flint said. “[We want] to grow our business into something that we believe Verizon is going to be very happy with.”

Email controversy

Another recent story surrounding Oath centred on claims the company was “scanning” more than 200m Yahoo Mail inboxes for data to sell to advertisers.

Asked to respond to those reports, and discuss how email data would fit into the new advertising proposition, Flint said: “Our dashboard allows consumers to be able to opt out of absolutely anything they don't want to receive or be involved in across the Oath properties and propositions. I feel very comfortable we've informed our consumers at all times, at all levels, about what is happening within their data.”

Oath’s technology “absolutely does not” read emails, Flint insisted, and only applies to commercial emails rather than personal ones. “It's non-personally identifiable information. It's picking up keywords within the subject line for example that are on commercial receipts.”

Flint cited a Virgin Atlantic receipt as a hypothetical scenario. “We would use that as a signal and pull those individuals into a travel bucket of consumers that are interested in flying, for example. There's nothing there to suggest we're doing anything non-compliant. We're absolutely compliant and adherent to the IAB framework within GDPR.”

Oath will be unveiling the new Ad Platforms offering to the industry at the Dmexco digital marketing expo and conference in Cologne, Germany later this week.

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