Oath isn’t just a terrible name — it’s going to be a nightmare ad-tracking machine


Two seemingly unrelated things happened Monday that actually point directly at the future of the internet:

1. Verizon was scooped into admitting that it’s going to rename the combined zombie corpses of AOL and Yahoo “Oath,” which is a terrible name that comes second only to Tronc.

2. President Trump signed the bill that allows ISPs to share your browsing data without permission.

This is everything Verizon and AOL have been working toward over the past few years. Like every other broadband provider, Verizon wants to extract more revenue from its network by increasingly owning the media that travels over it.

But unlike AT&T (which bought DirecTV and is in the process of buying Time Warner) or Comcast (which bought NBCUniversal and invested in companies like BuzzFeed and our own Vox Media), Verizon’s plan is far more lowbrow: it’s going to churn out as much cheap content as it can from AOL and Yahoo and tell advertisers it can do a better job of delivering eyeballs because it has better ad-tracking capabilities than Google and Facebook.

What Verizon wants, more than anything, is a piece of Google’s ad business.

This isn’t a new or small plan — it’s been AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s vision for years now. (Armstrong was the head of Google ad sales for years before taking over AOL.) AOL has been buying marketing and ad tech startups nonstop since Armstrong took over in 2009; they all have names that would cause normal, non-influencer humans to die in an explosion of pure shame. Millennial Media. RYOT. Adap.tv….

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