The last few years have seen Verizon expand its reach from telecommunications into media properties with several acquisitions (most of which being complete failures), which were most recently held under the "Oath" brand. Although it was far better than Tronc, the name didn't really make any sense or end up gaining any brand equity and so Verizon is going with something far more traditional and descriptive to replace it: Verizon Media Group.
The announcement comes after Verizon took a massive $4.6 billion writedown on its failed ad and media business as it was never able to compete with either ad nor media companies on a scale befitting such a large company. Despite that realization and financial loss, Verizon's pitch for Verizon Media Group is effectively the same:
This quarter, we've made it easier for people to access our unparalleled diversity and quality of consumer products, while making it easier for advertisers and publishers to solve their business challenges with the recent launch of our unified ad platforms. We've built on this strong foundation and set our advertising solutions apart by introducing over 20 new features this quarter, including engaging ad formats and unique supply such as digital OOH, connected TV and programmatic audio.
The difference is in the branding and positioning of each part of its group of companies. The move from an attempt to have one giant company under a recognizable "brand" name to a generic conglomerate Verizon Media Group name shows the company's direction: its ad and publisher technologies will go into the background (where they probably belonged in the first place), and its main consumer-facing brand in the media space will now be Yahoo. Verizon thinks that there's still equity in its ownership of Yahoo and is still investing in the brand, its properties and its mobile apps. You can easily argue there's still value in Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Finance — although the actual valuations could vary wildly depending on your perspective. But regardless, "Yahoo" as a name (and to a lesser extent HuffPost) is dramatically more recognizable than "Oath" was ever going to be.
This is more of a horizontally integrated conglomerate than a vertically integrated company.
This also solidifies that Verizon's core business, telecommunications, will operate according to its current trajectory without deep integration of media to its strategy. Verizon is still pushing hard to be the first to widely deploy a 5G network in the U.S. (and among the first in the world), seeing large strategic advantages to being "first to 5G." What this strategy isn't likely to include, unlike AT&T, is a wealth of in-house-owned programming to "bundle" with the communication services it sells. This is more of a horizontally integrated conglomerate than a vertically integrated company — and given how harshly Oath failed, you can't blame Verizon for changing its strategy.
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