Why AT&T could become the next online advertising giant

There’s been such an onslaught of attention on how tech giants like Facebook and Google use consumer data, but there’s another company that’s making big strides in online advertising: AT&T.

Internet-connected smart TVs are increasingly being used to track what people are watching, and companies can then use that information to target individuals with specific advertisements.

And one company that’s capitalizing on this latest technology -- and that some warn could become the next corporate spy -- is AT&T, which quietly purchased the ad-tech company AppNexus in June.

“They have to execute quite a bit,” Chatham Road Partners Director of Research Colin Gillis said during an interview with FOX Business’ Cheryl Casone. “But they’ve got all the building blocks in place to become the third leg in online advertising.”

AT&T announced in June its free (at least for some AT&T wireless customers) on-demand streaming service.  The live service costs $15 a month if you aren’t an AT&T customer. But Gillis warned that users should be leery of any service that purports to be free.

“Any service that’s free, you’ve got to realize that you’re the product,” he said. “We’ve seen it with Facebook, we’ve seen it with Google. There may be a degree of outcry about privacy, but for the most part, privacy issues continue to take a backseat to target advertisements, because people don’t necessarily mind targeted ads.”