Microsoft expands ad sales relationship with Verizon

Companies deepen 10-year deal amid speculation that Microsoft could make surprise return to advertising.

Nadella: Microsoft CEO has overseen tripling of company's value
Nadella: Microsoft CEO has overseen tripling of company's value

Microsoft is expanding its relationship with Verizon Media in a multi-year global deal to build native ad formats across the tech giant’s platforms, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show today.

Verizon Media, the digital content division of Verizon formerly known as Oath, will now be able to give marketers 20% more inventory on Microsoft through its ad tech stack, Oath Ad Platforms.

This means Oath Ad Platforms will be able to deliver native ads across every page of MSN in more than 30 countries, with plans to have programmatic native inventory on additional Microsoft formats.

The expansion of the deal might quell recent speculation that Microsoft could soon re-enter the advertising business or even acquire Verizon Media.

Microsoft and AOL agreed a 10-year deal for Microsoft’s Bing to replace Google as AOL’s search engine from 2016, while AOL would handle display, mobile and video ad sales for Microsoft brands including Outlook, Xbox and MSN.

Since then, the fortunes of both companies have changed significantly. Verizon bought AOL in 2015 and merged it with Yahoo in 2017 to create Oath. Meanwhile, Microsoft has seen its stock market price triple since chief executive Satya Nadella took charge in 2014.

Meanwhile, Verizon chief executive Hans Vestberg, who joined the telecoms conglomerate in summer last year, is restructuring the business and has admitted that he does not expect Verizon Media to meet previously announced revenue targets for 2020. 

Verizon Media chief executive Guru Gowrappan said: "We help advertisers easily solve their business challenges with our unified ad platforms and we're continuing to build on this strong foundation by introducing even more high-quality, global inventory through this deal.

"Partnering with Microsoft enables us to bring together this premium inventory with our ad tech, quality content and the most diverse, verified data in the industry to connect marketers with their key audiences at scale."