Cross-Device Advertising: How Verizon’s Acquisition of Yahoo! Can Change the Game as We Know It


Mobile Shopping Trends

Consumers use an average of 4.1 digital devices every day, with mobile being the most used device. In fact, time spent with mobile devices now exceeds time devoted to any other medium, including TV.

Because of this, consumers expect brands to engage and interact with them as seamlessly as they move across their own devices. Enter cross-device targeting, the practice of reaching people across all their digital screens—desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.

This poses a challenge for marketers, because we need to know that the person using smartphone A is the same person who uses laptop B and tablet C, and then retarget that person accordingly. We need data, primarily the email address, to target our audiences. In fact, the email address is so important; marketers ephemerally refer to it as the “holy grail of cross-device targeting,” since it is one of the only things consumers consistently log in to across all of their devices. The email address allows us to deterministically cross-device target because it matches devices by known user logins. It’s the most accurate way of cross-device targeting.

Luckily, since consumers are increasingly on their devices, including their phones, there is more data to collect than ever before, so we can more accurately target our audiences. Less easy for marketers is gaining access to this data and leveraging it to appropriately engage a consumer.

As the need for cross-device targeting continues to grow, a greater emphasis is placed on obtaining data, which is why we see global companies making large-scale acquisitions for this very reason.

Verizon Pushes for an Omnichannel Strategy

This July, Verizon, who acquired digital behemoth AOL last year, added a new member to its roster—Yahoo!. This can only mean one thing: Verizon has stepped up to the plate to be a major player in digital media with the scale, tech acumen, and data advertisers are looking for.

Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo answers some of our concerns as marketers. It means deterministic, cross-device campaigns are more of a reality, at scale, than ever before. Yahoo claims to have more than one billion active users, including 600 million monthly mobile active users, and 225 million users who use Yahoo Mail. Combining this data with AOL’s massive reach and treasure trove of email addresses provides Verizon with the reach and scale they need to execute precise campaigns to niche audiences across all their devices, competing with the confirmed titans of cross-device matching and targeting—Facebook and Google. Not only will this give Verizon access to email addresses, but they will be able to access mobile IDs through Yahoo’s owned mobile analytics company, Flurry. Flurry has a Software Development Kit (SDK) installed in more than 600,000 ad supported and non-ad supported apps, providing another valuable data source to help with the company’s cross-device goals.

Leveraging Digital Media Trends

Verizon will also be poised to leverage some of the largest digital media trends to date—video, mobile, and native—through integrations with AOL and Yahoo products. We expect to see Verizon emerge as a leader in Yahoo’s traditionally strong content areas of Yahoo Finance, Sports, and News. Similarly, we expect to see them shape the digital video landscape, as Yahoo brings Brightroll, its video exchange. Brightroll may be paired with AOL’s ONE by AOL video-tech stack, already offering and PrecisionDemand, the connected TV targeting company. Yahoo Gemini introduces further native opportunities into the Verizon mix.

So, will Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo change the ad tech and digital media landscape immediately? No. Verizon still has a lot of growing to do. They need to integrate datasets across all their companies and determine how to leverage them appropriately, while still upholding privacy concerns and standards of their constituents. But this is a beacon of hope for advertisers—our industry is moving in the right direction to truly reach the right consumer at the right time.

See our whitepaper for more information on multi-screen targeting.


State of Consumers & Technology; Forrester Research, October 2015.

Does The Yahoo Acquisition Give Verizon the Cross-Device Clout It Craves?; Ad Exchanger, July 2016.

What Does Verizon/AOL’s Acquisition of Yahoo Really Mean?; MediaPost, July 2016.

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