AT&T Consolidates Ad Sales Units by Moving Xandr Into WarnerMedia

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AT&T is consolidating its WarnerMedia and Xandr ad sales teams, moving both units under Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International.

The move, according to AT&T, will give brands and agencies access to “the broadest and most effective advertising solutions” between the two units.

However, the Xandr and WarnerMedia ad sales teams are not merging into a single unit. They will continue to operate separately, but will work more closely together under Zeiler. Xandr will still be led by chief business officer Kirk McDonald, who will now report to Zeiler.

The WarnerMedia CRO has been overseeing WarnerMedia ad sales since a major company restructuring in March 2019.

“We are in unprecedented times that amplify the priority across both WarnerMedia and Xandr to deliver valuable results and outcomes for our agencies and clients,” said Zeiler in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need to simplify advertising and further our marketplace capabilities for our customers. This is done through one holistic conversation that spans premium content and trusted environments, alongside proven and advanced ad capabilities.”

WarnerMedia ad sales and Xandr, AT&T’s ad-tech unit, had been working together with increasing frequency since the AT&T-Time Warner merger was finalized in June 2018. The companies had held separate events during upfronts week last year, but had planned to hold a joint upfront event next month. However, that plan was upended by Covid-19, which wiped out the traditional May upfronts week.

“Xandr and WarnerMedia have always worked hand-in-hand to benefit our incredible advertising partners,” said McDonald in a statement. “This is the next logical step to help empower our clients and continue to ‘Make Advertising Matter’ for consumers. I look forward to the work ahead of us as one powerful combination.”

The consolidation comes after Brian Lesser unexpectedly stepped down as Xandr CEO last month, just hours after AT&T’s ad-tech unit unveiled its expanded audience targeting platform, Xandr Invest. This week, Lesser joined the board of directors at U.K.-based startup InfoSum.

WarnerMedia said the combined unit will help it accelerate innovation for new advertising format that will be part of the upcoming streaming service HBO Max’s ad-supported iteration, which is planned for 2021.

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