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Another ‘Walled Garden?’ Here’s What AT&T Acquisition of Appnexus Means

by George Slefo // June 25, 2018

AT&T is acquiring ad tech platform AppNexus, with plans to integrate it into its advertising and analytics unit, the company said Monday. The move will undoubtedly shake up the current ad landscape as well as challenge the so-called duopoly of Google and Facebook.

AppNexus, which has been rumoured to go public for years, mainly serves as a sell-side platform (SSP), meaning it provides publishers with software to automate ad sales in formats such as display, audio and over-the-top video. The company also works with marketers to help them buy ads, competing with outfits such as The Trade Desk and Media Math, though that portion of its business is regarded to be be much smaller than the sell-side business with publishers.

The news comes shortly after AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. Brian Lesser, CEO of AppNexus, was previously responsible for billions in ad spending at WPP-owned GroupM, the world’s largest buyer of digital media. At Cannes, Lesser made no secret of his ambitions to compete with the duopoly.


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