AT&T seeks ‘brand safe’ ad placement, so bought a company to do it
- US telco a huge digital ad buyer
- Decides to buy the company it was working with to place its ads
- Ultimate objective is to ‘resonate’ more with consumers
AT&T has announced that it intends to ‘consolidate’ its programmatic advertising spend and put it all through Xandr, the telecoms giant’s own advertising business
AppNexus, was acquired by AT&T last year for $1.6 billion and, as a division of Xandr, it’s developing a system for buying TV advertising with the hope that the platform will be efficient and optimal enough, not only to enhance AT&T’s digital ad placement effort, but also to attract non-AT&T companies into the fold.
AT&T says Xandr is developing next-generation TV planning, campaign management and measurement capabilities using the AppNexus technology and its engineering talent.
Fact is, AT&T may be in the media and entertainment business itself now, but it’s also a huge buyer of digital advertising which it relies on to ‘engage’ with existing and potential customers.
“As one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., we are excited to scale our spend with AppNexus as Xandr re-imagines the future of advertising and customer engagement,” said Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer for AT&T Communications. “Placing our advertising in premium, measurable, targetable and brand safe environments is essential to our brand building and performance marketing efforts.”
AT&T claims the platform enables direct access to AppNexus’ marketplace, with premium, brand-safe inventory across channels, including video and Connected TV, and all major and emerging formats.
So AT&T gets control of its own advertising via its subsidiaries, but it also stands a good chance of building scale for AppNexus and, by its very status as an owner/anchor user, building up new business for the service from other organisations wanting to better control their digital advertising spend - that’s the calculation.
According to Michael Rubenstein, President, AppNexus. “AT&T will now serve as a case study for premium brands seeking intelligent and customized campaigns that resonate with consumers.”
For a variety of reasons ‘brand safe’ placement of digital advertising has become a bit of a thing. The mounting criticism of Facebook and other social media sites is that reputational damage has recently been sustained by big brands when their ads were positioned against objectionable content - effectively big spending companies found themselves shelling out good money to damage their own brands. Not a comfortable situation.
As a result the forest of buzz words describing the various programmatic offerings are now emphasising ‘context’ more (where the trick is to associate ads with right content in the right ad environment) and less on placement against user profiles.
Programmatic advertising systems which chase users around from site-to-site are not only annoying for the user, who can receive the same ads appearing in the wrong place and out of context, but also means the ads might follow users to sites that the advertisers find objectionable and brand-damaging.
AT&T hopes to avoid that sort of thing.
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