In 2007, that WPP Group made big waves with its acquisition of display media technology firm 24/7 Media, worth $649 million. By bringing a publisher-facing ad server and network in-house, the holding company had staked out a tech ownership strategy that continues today.
Today that premise lives on at WPP, but the 24/7 Media brand does not. Going forward, the tools and publisher relationships formerly grouped under the 24/7 name will serve as the sell-side underpinnings of Xaxis' platform, supporting CEO Brian Lesser's vision of a programmatic buying company built on thousands of direct connections to media companies. (Read the release.)
Not coincidentally, the absorption of 24/7 Media into a programmatic framework comes as another traditional publishing network, ValueClick Media, prepares to "go programmatic" with a name change and demand-side platform (DSP) of its own.
Brian Lesser talked with AdExchanger about the future of Xaxis.
AdExchanger: What's the rationale for Xaxis absorbing 24/7 Media?
BRIAN LESSER: Xaxis has always been a much broader business than a trading desk. Our products are focused on acquiring inventory directly from publishers -- quality inventory that we can append to data that we've created in our DMP (data-management platform). And then we offer audiences that perform well against an advertiser's objectives, be they performance or branding objectives.
Within that, technology is incredibly important. And not just technology on the demand side. Technology on the supply side has become just as important.
It makes perfect sense to merge 24/7 into the Xaxis brand so we can offer advertisers and publishers a global programmatic media platform.
Does this effectively turn 24/7 into an SSP? And does Xaxis effectively become an ad exchange?
I wouldn't call 24/7 an SSP (supply-side platform) and I wouldn't call Xaxis an exchange, but I would say we now have more pieces in a total platform that can directly connect advertisers to publishers.
When I talk to our advertiser clients, they're frustrated that although automation has made things more efficient, it has abstracted what they're buying from publishers. And when I talk to publishers, they're frustrated that automation hasn't meant that they can sell their premium inventory at better rates to better quality advertisers. Part of that is because there's too many small players – DSPs, SSPs, ad exchanges. Advertisers and publishers simply want to connect more directly.