Tim Armstrong says Oath is the answer to Unilever’s Facebook and Google problem

Oath offers a great alternative, Armstrong says.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed sent a threat to Facebook and Google this week: Clean up your platforms or we’ll spend our advertising dollars elsewhere.

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong wants to be that elsewhere.

Armstrong believes that Oath, the joint AOL and Yahoo company with properties like Yahoo Finance and the HuffPost, is a good alternative to the Facebooks and Googles of the world — platforms that host other people’s content, but don’t create or control their own.

“If you’re complaining about what Keith Weed was complaining about this weekend, or what [brand officer] Mark Pritchard from P&G complained about this last year with his manifesto he put out — if you go through those bullet points, that’s Oath,” Armstrong said Tuesday from the Code Media conference stage in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Those complaints are primarily that Facebook and Google’s YouTube aren’t safe places for big-brand advertisers. You can’t be certain your video ad will run next to something that is brand safe, for example, and massive advertisers like P&G and Unilever are starting to voice their complaints publicly.

Facebook and Google are working to fix those issues. Facebook has been on a year-long crusade against so-called fake news, and is making constant changes to its News Feed algorithm to try and weed out content that it deems low quality. YouTube, meanwhile, is refining its policies so it can better and more consistently punish creators who upload questionable videos, like internet star Logan Paul.

Oath would love to be there to catch any ad dollars that might leave Facebook and Google, though it doesn’t appear to have happened yet. (Facebook reported record revenues in Q4.) Armstrong thinks that Facebook in particular is making the right kind of long-term moves with its recent News Feed change intended to prioritize posts from users’ friends and family over posts from publishers.

“There are a bunch of business models that got built on what I would say is a mile-wide, inch-deep-type business models,” Armstrong said. “Consumers are not interested in mile-wide, inch-deep relationships.”

Oath and its stable of brands, he says, offers a deeper connection.

Is Go90 going away?

It also sounds like Go90, Verizon’s mobile video service, might be ending.

Armstrong says that company plans to fold Go90 back into Oath and start redistributing the content on Go90 to Oath’s other properties. “There’s a bunch of stuff that should be in the Huffington Post, a bunch of stuff that should be in Yahoo Sports, a bunch of stuff that should be in Yahoo Finance,” he said. “So you’ll see basically the power of Go90 and those partnerships start to get distributed at scale.”

Will the Go90 brand stick around?

“The brand will remain — I don’t know how long for,” Armstrong added. “For now it’s remaining.”


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