Real-Time With Brian Gleason On WPP News, Consolidation

by , Dec 3, 2013, 4:10 PM
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Tuesday's news that WPP has merged Xaxis and 24/7 Media is just the latest in a long list of consolidation news to come out of the advertising technology industry in the past six months.

But even though consolidation has begun, I still wonder if the general ideal is challenging because it's fundamentally backwards to how consumers are behaving. Think about it -- consumers are spreading across all sorts of devices and screens, so how does a marketer keep up while keeping it easy to manage?

I asked Brian Gleason, Xaxis' managing director, North America, that question, and he said that even though it's dealing in opposites (consumers are spreading out, ad technology space is trying to draw it in), the way consumers are behaving is what is driving consolidation.

Niche marketing options sprung up as consumers went cross-device, making consolidation difficult in terms of volume but easy in terms of choice.

See below for Gleason's thoughts on the WPP merger and industry consolidation in general below.

RTM Daily: What's the power structure like now between the merged companies? I know 24/7 Media, Xaxis, WPP, WPP Digital, and even GroupM are involved. Can you spell it out for us?

Brian Gleason: WPP is the holding company. Underneath that you would have WPP Digital. WPP Digital owns a portion of Xaxis. Then GroupM would be the other entity owning a portion of Xaxis. By merging 24/7 Media under the Xaxis name, GroupM is expanding their portfolio by getting a portion of 24/7 Media they didn't previously have.

RTMD: Did you expect this move? Why did it happen?

Gleason: The move was not expected, but you certainly saw synergies between the groups (Xaxis and 24/7). It gives us access to over 240 engineers from 24/7 Media -- that's massive for us.

24/7 Media also brings us access to new inventory, which is probably the biggest thing in my opinion.

RTMD: How does this merger benefit buyers and sellers?

Gleason: As I mentioned before, Xaxis clients now get access to the inventory that is running through 24/7 Media.

On the publisher side, they get a significant increase in demand. They also get access to over 1.5 trillion cookies, which is what you have coming in from 24/7.

The merger is combining a technology platform with a programmatic audience-buying engine. We believe we are bridging the gap between publishers and advertisers.

RTMD: Do you think we will continue to see consolidation happen in 2014?

Gleason: I think you're going to continue to see it. When you think about the premise [of using advertising technology and data], the goal is to use it to engage in a one-to-one conversation. That's what everyone is trying to do. I think it's very difficult to do in isolation because the market pivots so quickly.

Scale is so important in our business, and it's very difficult to generate an impactful idea in a vacuum.

RTMD: What other "marriages" make sense when it comes to consolidation? Meaning, what types of companies do you think should be partnering or merging?

Gleason: AOL acquiring, or Jumptap and Millennial Media -- those were smart.

Content providers could acquire data management platforms (DMPs). There's value in that because it helps them gain a complete understanding of their own data.

I think there's also value in a display-based exchange merging with a mobile exchange as well as a video exchange. It would create one central repository traders could go to.

Those types of things make sense. We need to understand we work in a cross-device world.

RTMD: Thank you for your time.

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