Tim Armstrong, who led AOL when it was purchased by Verizon, and shepherded the telecom’s acquisition of Yahoo, may be on the way out as the company’s online content chief.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Armstrong, who came to Verizon in 2015 when it acquired AOLand helped steer its purchase of Yahoo two years later, had tried to combine the two internet companies to challenge Google andFacebook Inc. in digital advertising. But those efforts so far have failed to generate much growth or make the unit, called Oath, more than a side note in the wireless giant’s earnings.
There were recent discussions about whether to spin off the Oath business, the people said, but Verizon has decided instead to integrate some of its operations more closely with the rest of the company. Mr. Armstrong, 47 years old, is in discussions to depart as soon as next month, they said, as are other members of his leadership team.
The development is evidence that content is a tough nut to crack, even for a telecom giant with reams of user data to tap into.
According to NBC, part of the problem has been about marrying content to data:
Two advertising agency sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid compromising their business relationships said Armstrong had struggled to integrate Yahoo and AOL and pair its content with consumer data from Verizon, a combination Armstrong had hoped would make Oath a destination for advertisers.
AT&T has similarly touted its ability to combine content with consumer targeting data from its sizable wireless and internet customer base. But Craig Moffett, an analyst who covers Verizon for the research firm MoffettNathanson, said that kind of strategy now appears difficult to execute.
“This is less a story about personnel and more a story about why Oath hasn’t really worked,” Moffett said. “Politically, it’s incredibly sensitive. The phone companies have an implicit covenant with users and regulatory bodies that requires they hold themselves to a much higher standard than Google and Facebook.”