At first glance, the announcement that Verizon is acquiring AOL for $4.4 billion seems pretty inexplicable. While AOL was a powerhouse in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it was by far the largest and most widely-known Internet service provider in the United States, those days are long passed. Today, hardly anyone relies on AOL for Internet access, and many people probably don't realize the company is still alive and kicking.
But make no mistake - AOL is hardly a relic of a bygone era. On the contrary, the company has evolved tremendously over the years, increasing its value to the point that Wired declared Verizon's acquisition of AOL "makes perfect sense."
How is this possible? It's thanks largely to AOL's development of its online advertising technology and operations and, even more importantly, the growing significance of mobile marketing - specifically, mobile push marketing. More than anything else, this deal should demonstrate just how much potential mobile push marketing offers to opportunistic firms. Embracing these openings can allow companies to engage new and existing customers in a more targeted, effective way than ever before, generating massive amounts of revenue and improving brand loyalty. To enjoy these benefits, though, firms need to not only act quickly, but also carefully.
When you think about it, the potential value that mobile push marketing has to offer becomes obvious. As Marketing Land pointed out, push notifications have become extremely popular, with more than half of all smartphone owners enabling push messaging on their devices. These notifications take many forms. The most simplistic are broad alerts based solely on the fact that the user has installed a particular app. However, "smart" push notifications take into account and are based upon the user's location and activity, among other factors.
"More than half of all smartphone owners enable push messaging."
The source further noted that mobile push notifications tend to see a high click-through rate - as much as 40 percent, according to Kahuna. This makes sense - these notifications are immediate, targeted and easy to access, all of which encourages the recipient to go ahead and check them out.
That being the case, it's clear that well-executed mobile push marketing represents a powerful new way for businesses to reach out to consumers in a direct and highly noticeable fashion without seeming intrusive or irritating.
Say, for example, a company that makes T-shirts wants to promote its latest design. Whenever a consumer who has installed the firm's app steps into a retail location that carries these shirts, he or she can receive a push notification highlighting the new offering. Just like that, the chances of that consumer picking up a shirt go up dramatically.
This same concept can apply to businesses in a wide range of sectors, delivering exceptional results.
What's more, the push notifications can combine with organizations' apps to encourage eCommerce. A well-done push notification marketing campaign can not only increase consumers' awareness of a product or service, but also provide an easy path to making an immediate purchase right then and there.
Push notifications can encourage eCommerce.
That's the ideal scenario, and it's very achievable. In fact, many companies are already experimenting with mobile push marketing strategies, and more are certain to follow suit in the coming years.
Getting it right
That's why Verizon's acquisition of AOL is reasonable, despite the massive price tag. As Wired explained, Verizon has access to unbelievable amounts of data concerning its subscribers - information that would prove invaluable to third parties eager to leverage mobile channels for marketing and eCommerce purposes. However, Verizon does not have the infrastructure necessary to serve as this bridge - at least, it didn't have this infrastructure until it purchased AOL.
However, it's critical to note that this acquisition also highlights some of the challenges that companies must overcome in order to take advantage of mobile push marketing and eCommerce opportunities. For these campaigns to prove effective, organizations need to develop highly integrated apps that can seamlessly collect and utilize consumer data, while also providing a simple, straightforward option for mobile purchasing. If the apps cannot deliver this functionality, the push marketing effort may cause frustration for customers, and actually damage a company's brand.
Fortunately, purchasing a multi-billion dollar company is not necessary to achieve this level of performance. Instead, firms must make software development a priority, choosing the right personnel, the right approach and the right partner.