Xaxis Stays Aggressive, Acquires Bannerconnect

WPP’s largest trading desk, Xaxis, on Monday announced it has acquired Bannerconnect, a programmatic technology provider. Bannerconnect is based in the Netherlands.

The acquisition is the latest in a string of recent moves by WPP to strengthen the Xaxis offering. In early December, Xaxis merged with 24/7 Media to create a massive programmatic media and technology platform. One week later, Xaxis acquired programmatic tech provider Crystal Semantics.

In Bannerconnect, Xaxis is adding a team of experienced programmatic traders and a campaign “optimization technology” called Bright.

Brian Lesser, global CEO at Xaxis, spoke with RTM Daily about the deal. He said Bright provides media buyers with log-level data on inventory sources, which he claimed lets advertisers see “performance trends at a much better level than a typical demand-side platform (DSP).”

To break it down and make is less hyperbolic, Bright essentially spits out "granular" data -- to use the buzzword -- about inventory sources in real-time. With that data, marketers can make adjustments to "optimize" campaigns, hence Bright being referred to as an "optimization technology." Lesser said Bright doesn’t replace anything in Xaxis’ current tech stack but is instead an “incremental piece of technology.”

Bright and Bannerconnect’s team of 40 are the two main reasons Xaxis wanted to buy the company.

“One of the biggest reasons for the acquisition is because their team is exceptionally talented,” Lesser said. “Their CEO, Sebastian Schepers, is someone I’ve known for many years." Schepers "will immediately become part of the Xaxis senior management team.”

Lesser said he has always thought of Bannerconnect -- a company that has been around for 10 years -- as experts in programmatic trading. He said it started as an ad network and was one of the first companies in Europe to “move aggressively into programmatic trading.” Lesser said the European market mostly knows Bannerconnect as an independent trading desk, though Lesser himself doesn’t like the term.

Xaxis will keep all 40 members of Bannerconnect’s staff. Bannerconnect will keep its brand identity and will operate as a separate unit under the Xaxis umbrella. Schepers will remain as CEO.

Lesser would not disclose the amount paid for Bannerconnect, but a WPP press release shared some general financials details about the company. In the release, WPP wrote: “Bannerconnect's revenues for the year ended 31 December 2013 were EUR 4.3 million ($5.8M) with gross assets as at the same date of EUR 8.3 million ($11.2M).”

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