Verizon to Launch Media Division Called Oath When Yahoo Merges With AOL

  • AOL CEO Armstrong touts $50 million worth of free marketing
  • Tronc comparisons abound, while AOL’s TechCrunch tweets ‘Oof’

Verizon's Oath to Combine AOL, Yahoo Internet Units

Verizon Communications Inc.’s new digital division Oath has drawn responses of disbelief and mockery online for its unorthodox name, but the company is pleased with the response, said one of its top executives, Tim Armstrong.

The unit will become official this summer, when Verizon combines its AOL division with the internet assets it’s buying from Yahoo! Inc. Oath will oversee more than 20 brands, including AOL, Yahoo, TechCrunch and Huffington Post, and will reach more than a billion consumers, said Armstrong, AOL’s chief executive officer.

On Twitter, the initial reaction to the moniker, first reported by Business Insider on Monday, ranged from suspicions of a belated April Fools joke to references to Tronc, the widely panned name of the company formerly known as Tribune Publishing. AOL’s own TechCrunch simply tweeted, “Oof:”

AOL Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong talks to Bloomberg TV.

(Source: Bloomberg)

“Some of the reaction you see to the brand is short-term thinking, and we are a long-term company. We are big believers in brand,” Armstrong said on Bloomberg Television Tuesday. Verizon didn’t enlist an expensive outside agency to come up with the name, and judging by the initial buzz, it has already started to pay off, Armstrong said.

“We developed the brand in-house,” he said. “And in the last 24 hours we’ve probably gotten $50 million worth of brand marketing for it. Even though it got leaked, it’s turned out to be a huge benefit for us.”

Verizon is buying Yahoo’s assets for about $4.48 billion to expand beyond a maturing wireless and landline business into mobile media and advertising ventures. Armstrong, who has led the integration planning team, has extolled the deal as a way to give advertisers a bigger audience online.

As a “house of brands,” Oath will be the single name that Verizon’s sales teams operate under as they try to sell businesses ads on online properties like Yahoo Sports, AOL email and Moviefone, Armstrong said. Verizon has been developing a mobile ad strategy that will place the company in direct competition with ad giants Google and Facebook.

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