Signs that telecommunications firms across the US may be looking to wade in late to the ad tech party can be found in Verizon’s $4.4 billion deal for AOL.

Tuesday’s landmark acquisition signalled intent from Verizon to advance its mobile and video advertising offerings, accessing AOL’s highly demanded programmatic technology, which took a 45% share of the media firm’s Q1 global ad revenue.

The deal also echoed loftier ambitions within the telecommunications industry to tap into to the “marketing action”, claims Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, the CEO of cross-device solutions company Drawbridge.

“This acquisition speaks to increasing ambitions of the carriers to connect and reach consumers across devices,” she comments.

“The telcos have been missing out on the marketing action that Google and Facebook have dominated for a long time. They’re awakening to the fact that data has been transacting on their networks, but they have had no real piece of it.”

Verizon’s purchase comes in the shadow of recent declines in stock among social networks, including Yelp and Twitter. LinkedIn, too, saw its shares drop by nearly a quarter at the end of last month, leading some to question whether the social bubble is bursting.

Ready and waiting

On the flipside, telcos are already equipped with the technology for potentially lucrative partnerships with ad tech companies.

That’s according to Sivaramakrishnan, who argues that AOL is able to supplement Verizon’s existing mobile, internet and cable reach with assets and content. Or in other words, ‘access’.

“This is the first step in creating a strong digital presence, and the next step is connecting the devices, either using technology or in a more explicit manner,” she adds.

“I think the carriers will be very active acquirers in the near-future. This is the start of potentially more acquisitions to come that strengthens their position in digital, content, and data.”