WPP's GroupM Acquires Programmatic Firm The Exchange Lab

WPP’s GroupM, has acquired programmatic marketing firm The Exchange Lab, known for its proprietary technology, Proteus. 

GroupM said The Exchange Lab will become a core component of its Connect (formerly GroupM Interaction) demand-side platform.  The integration of Proteus will expand Connect’s ability to optimize the allocation of marketing budgets across GroupM’s programmatic partners including its own proprietary media properties. Terms were not disclosed.

Co-founded in 2007 by James Aitken and Tim Webster, The Exchange Lab has approximately 130 employees working in offices in London, New York, Chicago, Singapore, and Toronto, serving 700 clients, including Virgin Holidays, Volkswagen, A&W, Glasses Direct and Vue Entertainment.

With the acquisition, Aitken will step down from his role as CEO to pursue outside investment interests, the companies said. Exchange Lab Executive Chairman Chris Dobson will take the role of CEO, working closely with Webster who continues as Chief Strategy Officer.



Dobson will report to Rudiger Wanck, global CEO of Connect, GroupM Global. The company said The Exchange Lab will operate globally as an “agnostic business layer within Connect, while also continuing to service clients independently.”

In May, GroupM Interaction was rebranded Connect, an expanding operation that brought most of the company’s digital biddable media operations into alignment excluding Xaxis, but including search, social, mobile, and programmatic buying units.   

As part of the realignment, GroupM specialist agencies, including Catalyst, Quisma, Keyade, H1, Blazar and Outrider, were brought under the worldwide management of GroupM Connect.

Commenting on The Exchange Lab deal, Wanck said, “The impetus behind the creation of Connect is to provide agnostic real time media investment management across all technologies, data and inventory. Adding The Exchange Lab’s talent and proprietary technology accelerates our development and directly benefits the clients of GroupM’s agencies. Likewise, GroupM’s scale and innovative media partnerships will terrifically enhance The Exchange Lab’s client services.”

Currently Connect has 2,000 employees working across 50-plus countries. 

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