Verizon go90's partnership deals: Publicis, New Form Digital sign on

As Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) new go90 mobile-focused OTT service rolls out, the provider is announcing a number of partnership deals designed to boost both its content offerings and its advertising inventory. At an Advertising Week event in New York, AOL, which is leading go90's ad sales strategy, announced a year-long partnership with the world's third largest advertising group, Publicis Groupe, in a deal worth $50 million.

Publicis will be the exclusive advertiser on the service for its first three months, starting in the fourth quarter of 2015. It will also have "first access" to data segmentation and new ad units as well as early access to Verizon and AOL's planned data management program, slated to debut in the first quarter of next year.

This isn't the first time AOL and Publicis have partnered; the two companies have worked together on advertising in the past as AOL built its ONE by AOL platform and was subsequently acquired by Verizon for $4.4 billion. AOL President Bob Lord said that go90 presents a new opportunity for advertisers. "The coming together of premium, curated video in go90, richness in data and automation technology will enable their advertisers to drive conversations with millennial-centric audiences that are, more and more, tuning in through the machine in their pocket rather than in their living room."

Verizon is also partnering with New Form Digital, a digital-focused production company, which will develop and produce six scripted series for the go90 service.

Each series will have 12 episodes and will premiere over the next year. They include fantasy adventure The Fourth Door; #DoOver, a Groundhog Day-like series whose main character repeats her 25th birthday over and over; intergalactic sci-fi comedy Miss Earth; political comedy Mr. Student Body President; crime series Cold; and one unannounced series. (All except The Fourth Door, which premieres in October, are working titles.)

Will Verizon's moves spell success for go90? While it doesn't hurt to have a Tier 1 carrier providing the service, that's no guarantee: Samsung, for example, just shuttered Milk Video, its mobile service that served up short video clips to Samsung smartphone users.

Further, the announcements so far appear to be geared to catch up to OTT trends and the demands of its target millennial audience, rather than set any trends. "The challenge for Verizon is that it's trying to win over the attention of teens and 20-somethings who already have a plethora of mobile video options from Facebook, Vine, Snapchat and YouTube," a Wall Street Journal article said.

Both Publicis and AOL will be reworking their ads on the fly. Go90 will initially carry some repurposed TV ads and feature pre-roll and mid-roll video ads, WSJ said. However, AOL said it has established a new program, Head Start, which will give clients a look at the user response to different types of advertising in order to learn what campaigns work and which ones don't.

For more:
- see this WSJ article
- see this Publicis release
- see this New Form Digital release

Editor's Corner: Verizon's Go90 video service will rise or fall on its content lineup -- and almost nothing else matters

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