AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is following the path of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) to run massive ad tracking networks and give a stiff competition to Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB).
Randall Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer of AT&T, is speaking at Code Conference today. He spoke at length about anti-trust law invoked by the government to block the takeover of Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX).
AT&T is flush with information gathered from over forty million Pay TV subscribers in South and North America. It also has data about sixteen million broadband subscribers and one thirty million mobile subscribers. Turner of Time Warner also has an inventory of advertising.
AT&T has complete insight into the customers for example, what type of media they consume, what type of shows they watch and location wise etc. It is possible to create a unique content and monetize by utilizing the inventory of advertising, and viewership data?
Exactly, AT&T is intending to capitalize on the massive amount of data it collects from the users over the vast network. It plans to target the customers with relevant ads by merging with the content of Time Warner for a higher price.
However, it is an upsetting point when looked from the angle of the privacy of the customers. But, it is the familiar strategy adopted by a major carrier. Verizon has acquired Yahoo and AOL and merged them to create a single company called Oath in the year 2017. The main aim of Oath was to utilize the data collected from Verizon and target the customers with relevant ads in its content across the AOL and Yahoo.
Tim Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of Oath, has acquired several mid-level ad-tech firms over the years. Supercookies are inserted by Verizon in its network to know about each site visited by the customer and to track the location of the mobile phone.
AT&T is heading in the same direction. When Peter Kafka of Recode raised a question about competing with Facebook and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), CEO of AT&T said, if the company is not able to create a vertically integrated capability from its distribution by framing well-targeted ads and the engaging content, it is tough to compete with Google and Facebook.
Facebook and Google account for nearly 100% of the spending on digital ads.