The rumors were true.
AT&T said Monday it will acquire AppNexus for its advertising and analytics unit, which is headed up by former GroupM chief (and ex-AppNexus board member) Brian Lesser. The acquisition is expected to close in Q3. Read the release.
“Ad tech unites real-time analytics and technology with our premium TV and video content,” Lesser said in a statement. “So, we went out and found the strongest player in the space. AppNexus has scale of infrastructure, advanced technology and diverse talent."
The release claimed that AT&T would continue to build out AppNexus’ “foundational technology” and integrate it with AT&T’s data, video content and distribution capabilities.
“Combining AT&T’s incredible assets with our technology, we will help brands and marketers power new advertising experiences for consumers,” said AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley in a statement.
AppNexus gives AT&T advertising and analytics a global presence, as well as some coveted sell-side clients including Microsoft and News Corp. (both of which invested in AppNexus) and international publishers such as Schibsted.
AppNexus also has an exchange, which gives AT&T the ability to sell inventory on behalf of multiple publishers. Lesser had told Business Insider he hopes all broadcast networks would hook into AT&T, and AppNexus would be the technological means for that to happen.
AT&T’s acquisition finally ends AppNexus’ roller coaster ride. The vendor, which took $281 million in funding since it began in 2008, was part of the old guard of ad tech. Throughout that period, O’Kelley was a public and polarizing figure and AppNexus has weathered numerous storms under his leadership.
It got caught up in fraud concerns, but soon assuaged its critics. It evolved last year by slowly focusing its attention on its sell side, at the expense of its buy side. And it gleefully jumped into a price war by slicing take rates.
It remained controversial, commonly favoring its own exchange – which it would justify with data showing that was the best supply path.
Through all these ups and downs, AppNexus had been plagued by questions around when it would IPO.
In the end, it didn’t have to.
It’s no surprise AT&T is quickly acquiring another company after it closed its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner on June 14. CEO Randall Stephenson said in an interview with CNBC that AT&T would soon buy more companies to support Lesser’s division.
The rumors of the acquisition broke during the Cannes conference, though execs there steadfastly declined to comment.