HOLLYWOOD, FL: Verizon believes a growing suite of content assets can help it become an increasingly meaningful player in a digital advertising ecosystem now largely dominated by Facebook and Google.

Marni Walden, Verizon's EVP/President of Product Innovation & New Businesses, discussed this topic at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) 2017 Annual Leadership Meeting.

More specifically, she argued that the company's expanding mix of content resources – from AOL and The Huffington Post to its go90 mobile-first platform – and data expertise can potentially assist in driving ad revenue.

"We think this is a huge market and we believe there can be more than two players in this space," she said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: Verizon/AOL mix forges new identity.)

"Look at the strength of Verizon and AOL. We also have strength in mobile, clearly. But we believe we can make a difference in brands – and that's where we think our differentiator is."

One element of this process involves providing "contextual" ads that are deeply relevant to the consumer. But compelling content – be it owned, licensed or the result of investment deals – is essential to attracting these eyeballs in the first place.

"In order to get the advertising, we need to make sure that we get viewers," Walden said. "What we've found is you can take content, put it in [online], but also merchandise it in AOL or in Huff Post … and start to build some mass audience."

And she cited some datapoints indicating that the company is making progress in this area. "We're starting to scale double-digit growth in viewership and time on the platform, as well as 'return', the important engagement metric," said Walden.

"We're getting 30 minutes a day per viewer. We've done some cross-merchandising with content that really is driving viewership."

Verizon is also distinguished by the fact it is a major marketer in its own right, alongside selling a growing amount of advertising inventory – a role that may increase further with its possible acquisition of Yahoo.

"We're in an interesting spot, because we have an ad platform and we're also one of the top four or five advertisers in the country," said Walden.

"So, we get to see how things perform from a spend perspective. And we also get to judge performance from the other side of the house."

Data sourced from Warc