AT&T® has hired Brian Lesser, former CEO of GroupM North America, to head an advertisement and business analytics unit of the Telco giant. Lesser would leave the leading position of WPP media agencies and will report directly to Randall Stephenson, CEO and Chairman of AT&T®.
“Brian is a terrific executive and one of the best there is in harnessing technology and data to create targeted advertising,” Stephenson said in a recent statement. AT&T® provides the best internet service in the US, but the internet and cable subscribers should note that the appointment would apply to the media assets. However, AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner® is still pending, and is under review by the US Department of Justice and legislators.
It is unclear if the advertisement sales executives at Time Warner® and Turner cable networks would report to Brian Lesser when the AT&T® – Time Warner® merger goes through. However, Stephenson said, “Once we complete our acquisition of Time Warner® Inc., we believe there is an opportunity to build an automated advertising platform that can do for premium video and TV advertising what the search and social media companies have done for digital advertising.”
Both Time Warner’s Turner network, as well as Comcast’s NBCUniversal, has offered various products letting advertisers use the customer data and place TV commercials timely. Further, many of the TV outlets roll out programmatic advertising products, which allow for the buying of advertisement inventory via bids. Programmatic advertising is the algorithmic buying and sales of commercial space in real time and it uses software to automate the buying of commercial space.
“Advertising is evolving from broad messages delivered through traditional media channels, to customized, individual content coordinated across all connected devices,” Lesser said. “AT&T has amazing assets for creating engaging advertising experiences for consumers. I am excited to work with Randall and the entire AT&T team to build a world-class advertising and insights business.”
As per an AT&T® spokesperson, Brian Lesser would lead “an advertising and analytics business using the company’s unique customer data and growing content assets.” On the other hand, GroupM® is in search of a replacement for Brian Lesser, and Kelly Clark, global CEO of GroupM®, would hold the interim position in the absence of Lesser.