Commentary

Another Telco Gets Its Hands On Ad Tech

Axiata Group Berhad, a large telco company from Asia, has teamed with U.S.-based digital ad firm Adknowledge to get into the ad tech business.

The announcement comes just weeks after speculation surfaced that Verizon Wireless is interested in acquiring AOL for the latter’s ad tech. Real-Time Daily noted then that “other telcos, such as SingTel and Telstra, both made ad tech acquisitions in 2014. Telstra’s subsidiary Ooyala acquired a programmatic video ad platform in Videoplaza, while SingTel’s Amobee acquired Gradient X and Adconion Direct.”

An Axiata representative acknowledged SingTel’s ad tech acquisitions in 2014, but noted that Axiata’s deal with Adknowledge is “more like a franchise.”

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The joint Axiata-Adknowledge venture -- called Adknowledge Asia -- will be based in Singapore with sales emphasis in Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Hong Kong, per the rep. Other offices in the APAC region are expected to open in the next 18 months.

The venture will be focused on digital video ads on YouTube, app install ads and social media ads on Facebook and Twitter.

Axiata’s President and CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim claimed in a statement that the telco has over two billion mobile users in the APAC region, and asserted the partnership with Adknowledge will lead to ads more tailored to their interests.

Telcos have found themselves attached to ad tech news with increasing frequency of late -- but it hasn’t all been rosy. Verizon was under fire last week for its “zombie cookie” and the way it’s been used by ad tech companies -- Turn in particular.

It’s no surprise to see telcos getting more involved with ad tech, however. Programmatic advertising is data-driven, and telcos house a horde of mobile data -- again, Axiata claims to have two billion mobile users in the APAC region.

Overseas markets are said to be a year or two behind the U.S. in someregards, and with mobile programmatic spend set to surpass desktop programmatic in 2015 in the U.S., now seems to be the ideal time for international telcos to join the party.

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