As Sprint and T-Mobile aim to merge as a bigger carrier, AT&T and Verizon want to become bigger companies. Verizon has its Oath media properties. AT&T has DIRECTV and wants Time Warner, particularly for its highly-popular Turner properties.

At the Code Conference, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was clear about what being bigger means: more data.

“Turner has an amazing inventory of advertising that they just kind of sell broadly,” Stephenson said. “AT&T has an amazing amount of data — customer data for 40 million pay TV subscribers in North and South America, 130 million mobile subscribers, 16 million broadband subscribers.”

With more customers and all the insights into programs being served on its networks, AT&T would be able to serve better ads and generate better revenue from different initiatives.

“I believe if you don’t create a pure vertically integrated capability from distribution all the way through content creation and advertising models you’re going to have a hard time competing with [Verizon, Facebook and Google],” Stephenson went on to say.

Indeed, the carriers have a smaller possible universe to reach unless they grow on a multinational basis while Facebook and Google already have global reach and about all of the digital advertising market.

Of course, how much data is being reaped and how far users are being tracked is quite the concern. Privacy apparently is not the concern of US lawmakers, who allowed ISPs to share customers’ web histories with each other and potential ad buyers, and is definitely not the concern of Verizon or AT&T.

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