AT&T Folds Xandr Ad Tech Unit Into WarnerMedia

Gerhard Zeiler - H - 2015

The move follows Brian Lesser last month stepping down after launching the advertising unit in 2017.

AT&T on Thursday said WarnerMedia will take control of its Xandr advertising unit, to be run by WarnerMedia chief revenue officer Gerhard Zeiler.

The move follows Brian Lesser, who launched Xandr in 2017, last month leaving the telco giant.

In addition, Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, last week announced he will retire after 38 years with the company and John Stankey, the current leader of WarnerMedia, will take the top job as president and CEO from July 1.

AT&T has also in the past touted harnessing premium video, technology and data to make advertising more effective in a post-Time Warner acquisition world where WarnerMedia and HBO Max become its video offering to consumers. 

AT&T said unifying Xandr and WarnerMedia aimed to offer marketing brands and agencies "the broadest and most effective advertising solutions including the highest-quality content and environments, leading advanced TV products, and intelligent digital advertising capabilities."

Kirk McDonald, chief business officer at Xandr, will continue to lead the ad tech unit as he reports to Zeiler. AT&T in 2017 hired Brian Lesser away from ad giant WPP to use content, data and analytics to create a TV ad marketplace.

Post-unification with Xandr, WarnerMedia will continue to combine its giant advertising inventory with AT&T's mobile subscribers, pay TV subscribers, DirecTV Now, HBO Go and other digital platforms to create a media powerhouse in the advertising realm.

"We are in unprecedented times that amplify the priority across both WarnerMedia and Xandr to deliver valuable results and outcomes for our agencies and clients,” said Zeiler in his own statement.