The privacy policies of Oath, the firm that was created when telecommunications giant Verizon Communications merged its Yahoo and AOL properties, have been updated allowing the company to scan emails with a view to ensuring better ad targeting. With the updated policy Oath is now in a position of storing and analyzing communications content for purposes of delivering, personalizing and developing relevant ads.
The Verizon unit clarified that in order to alleviate concerns over privacy the automated systems would get rid of information that was personally identifying. Additionally Oath has no plans of scanning data from other units such as Tumblr which have their own privacy policies.
Digital ad business
Verizon’s move does not come as a surprise since the sole intention of acquiring Yahoo and AOL was to expand its digital advertising business. However the move coincides with recent events which have made consumers wary of targeted advertising especially following the Facebook scandal.
Oath was launched by Verizon last year and the entire portfolio consists of more than 50 technology and media brands including Techcrunch, AOL.com, Yahoo Sports and HuffPost. In the most recent reported quarter the portfolio generated revenues amounting to approximately $2.2 billion. This was a growth f 10% quarter-over-quarter.
While the amount of revenues that Oath generates for Verizon is a little more than 6% the telecommunications giant is confident that the consistent growth of the unit will compensate for the slower growth that the wireline and the wireless businesses are experiencing. Though Oath hasn’t been fully integrated into the other businesses of Verizon yet, online video will is expected to feature prominently in the days to come.
Later in the year Verizon is expected to unveil its own over-the-top platform in order to compete against the DirecTV Now service of rival telco AT&T. at the moment the ad placement service of Oath is being integrated into the platform. The ultimate goal of Verizon is to build an ad ecosystem which straddles apps, websites as well as the streaming service.
In 2017 a resolution was signed by President Donald Trump allowing internet service providers such as Verizon to share the browsing data of their users without explicit permission. This gave internet service providers a big advantage relative to web service providers such as Google and Facebook. This is because while Google and Facebook are only able to mine the data of users who are within their ecosystem, internet service providers can mine data that is flowing through their infrastructure.