A few months back, Verizon surprised the technology world with the news that the company would be purchasing AOL for a hefty $4.4 billion. This news came in May and by June Verizon had successfully acquired AOL. Now it looks as though Verizon may be taking a step in joining the two companies at the hip by combining their respective advertising programs.
Verizon currently has two different advertising programs, Relevant Mobile Advertising and Verizon Selects, AOL has one, AOL Advertising Network. What Verizon plans to do is combine all three of these advertising programs into one, so that Verizon can share user data with AOL and vice versa. Verizon says that this is being done in an effort to provide users with "more valuable" ads across all of their different devices and services that they use.
So what exactly does all of this mean for Verizon and AOL users? Well, beginning in November, Verizon will start to provide AOL with user data obtained via the companies supercookie identifier. This will give AOL user information including postal address, email address, Verizon product usage, gender, age range, and last but not least, interests. Once this is done, both Verizon and AOL will supposedly be better equipped to serve their respective users with better and more relevant ads across a broader range of devices and services, but of course this comes at a cost to the user. This cost does not come in the form of money, but instead in the form of security.
Once Verizon and AOL begin to do this it will be a huge amount of user data collection, which is not unheard of these days. The issue, however, is in the encryption of this data or better yet, a lack of it. That's right, this massive amount of user data that Verizon and AOL will soon start to collect in tandem will be unencrypted. Leaving all of that amassed data to be potentially grabbed by hackers or whoever. If this fact worries you at all, then it is worth pointing out that Verizon offers its users the option to opt-out of all of this data collection. If you wish to do so, then you can either give Verizon a call or visit the Verizon website and do it there. It's important to note that users are opted into Verizon data collection by default, not the other way around.