As Expected, Verizon's Attempt To Woo Millennials Is Falling Flat On Its Face

from the hip-to-be-square dept

For years now Verizon has made it clear that it no longer wants to be in the fixed-line broadband business. Despite countless billions in taxpayer subsidies and numerous unfinished obligations, the company has all-but frozen serious fiber deployments. It has also been either selling off unwanted DSL customers to smaller, ill-equipped telcos (which which almost always ends poorly for everybody except Verizon accountants and lawyers) or has quite literally tried to drive unwanted users away with both rate hikes and apathy.

Instead, Verizon executives decided to try and transform the stodgy old telco into a sexy new Millennial-focused advertising juggernaut. So far that has involved launching the company’s Millennial-targeted “Go90” streaming video service, spending $4.4 billion on acquiring AOL, trying to acquire the drifting wreckage that is Yahoo, and developing controversial stealth ad tracking technology to build covert profiles of customer behavior as they wander around the Internet.

Despite the company heavily marketing Go90, zero rating the service so it doesn’t count against usage caps, and even giving away data to users that try the service, it has seen extremely limited adoption among Verizon’s target demographic. Verizon has refused to release subscriber numbers for the service, and the Go90 app is slowly falling down both the Apple App Store and Google Play rankings. Things have been so underwhelming, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was forced to admit to attendees of an investor conference this week that the company may have “over-hyped” the platform:

“It did get a little bit overhyped, and we contributed to that to some extent,” McAdam said in a keynote appearance at the 44th Annual J.P. Morgan Conference. McAdam explained that Verizon’s strength is in building networks, not necessarily developing popular content. “It’s not exactly our strong suit,” McAdam conceded.

Granted everybody not at Verizon knew that the company’s attempt to magically make an old telco sexy for millennials would be a hard sell, especially given Verizon’s long history of trying and failing to be content innovators. The company has long tried and failed when leaning outside of its core competency, whether that’s operating its own app store, running a streaming venture with Red Box, or briefly operating a news website where authors were prohibited from talking about things like surveillance or net neutrality. Phone companies, after a generation of regulatory capture and “yes men” boardroom culture — simply aren’t genetically built for real disruption and innovation outside their core competency, no matter how many executives seem to believe otherwise.

McAdam then tried to walk back his comments a little, and tried to argue that Go90 isn’t a failure, it’s just a vision that’s going to take a lot of time, and a lot of money (which won’t be spent on networks), to execute:

“We’ve seen enough success to make us excited about continuing to work it… “Go90 is in a good spot from our perspective, we’re going to continue to pursue it. But our expectations are realistic.”

As a writer I generally love telecom investor conferences for the simple fact that for whatever reason, phone and cable executives still haven’t figured out that the public can hear what’s being said at them. What usually happens is a telecom executive will say something uncharacteristically candid, then the company’s marketing department will jump in to try and spin the comments a few weeks later. As such it shouldn’t be long before Verizon unveils a new marketing barrage that spins McAdam’s comments and claims Verizon’s quest to become sexy in the eyes of Millennials is going better than ever.

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Comments on “As Expected, Verizon's Attempt To Woo Millennials Is Falling Flat On Its Face”

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15 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

It’s Verizon… the executives were never in touch with reality to begin with. No thanks to all of the government criminals that allowed them to lie cheat and steal from the public coffers. Is it any wonder these dirt bags think that whatever they come up with the people will just love?

This is why telecom reform is needed and badly!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Agree, the idea that millennials are so different from normal customers is a bit of bullshit.

Sure they have demographics that say each group is different, but to be honest, if you just fucking ASK you be told what they want. Then you can compile that shit into a demographic so you can then strategize on your content & services.

Business spend so much time trying to figure out how to bilk more cash out of customers while executives lose fucking track of reality and just think their decisions should work for the public the way it works for their peon employees they pay no attention to.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The difference between the majority of millennials and most of the older folk is media is interactive. Most companies like Verizon do not understand that. They still see the world through pre 2000 rose colored glasses. Where business plans where made, no adaptation was done, no feedback was gathered, and anything that could affect any other portion of the businesses bottom line was nixed.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

To be fair they probably had 3 millennials in the focus group of loyal Verizion users where they made the basic outline for the program. 3 millennials properly vetted to think like the marketing team thought they should, then incentivised to regurgitate the party line…erm…make that the marketing team line. All so they could argue that due diligence was done.

Anonymous Coward says:

Core competency

From my perspective, Go90 demonstrates at least some of their core competencies: anti-competitive tactics (zero rating) and excessive hype for a product that is, at best, equivalent to its competitors. It does miss out on two of their more powerful competencies in that it does not seem to provide illogical price hikes or sufficiently hostile customer service representatives. Perhaps those are scheduled for later in the deployment. Along that line, I must disagree with the executive that building networks is part of the area where they excel. If they were good at that, then the networks they are abandoning would be of much higher quality.

ECA (profile) says:

I think

I think we have a failure to communicate..

Where is the Jester in the kings court??
The idiot in the corner that makes Fun at yes’ men and makes random comments(logical assumptions) on what is/has been said..

That little Spy that See’s everything. Knows what is happening, while everyone is trying to CLOUD the issue..

And GUESS what…Who is paying for FAILURE?? you are..
It USED to be cut from profits…

Chuck says:

Re: Re:

“You know know what your strong suit is, McAdams? Serving up a limited quantity of data at speeds that are fast during off-peak hours, until you hit the usage cap, in certain major markets where the dense population completely offsets the increased speed you offer. Why don’t you work on improving that and stop dicking around.”

Fixed that for ya.

Mar Paulus VII (profile) says:

What if we just listen for a change?

Listening to the customer or “end user”, as they say, now, is the only way of success in the #ageofaccountability. All “customer driven” industries eventually win the prize. I wish I had a $1.00 used for every idea that was thought of in a Board Meeting. I am hearing “the People” saying, “What we wish to have is connectivity, convenience, and sustainability at a price we can afford.” Security is great, but do not take any of my freedom away in the process. If you do, you will experience the limit of my tolerance. Period.

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