NEW YORK: AT&T, the telecoms to television giant, is buying adtech firm AppNexus as it builds on its recent completion of the acquisition of Time Warner.

Announcing the move, AT&T said the investment would “accelerate the growth of its advertising platform and strengthen its leadership in advanced TV advertising”. AppNexus will become part of AT&T advertising & analytics, led by Brian Lesser.

“Ad tech unites real-time analytics and technology with our premium TV and video content,” said Lesser. “The combination of AT&T advertising & analytics and AppNexus will help deliver a world-class advertising platform that provides brands and publishers a new and innovative way to reach consumers in the marketplace today.”

The news confirmed rumours that swept Cannes last week, where Bob Rupczynski, McDonald’s global vice president of media and customer relationship management, described it as a “a lightning bolt across the industry”.

Marketers had welcomed the possible move as bringing more diversification in a digital marketplace currently dominated by Google and Facebook.

Brian O’Kelley, AppNexus CEO, observed that by combining AT&T’s assets with AppNexus technology, “we will help brands and marketers power new advertising experiences for consumers.

“It’s what the market is asking for, and together we’re poised to deliver it,” he said.

AT&T is expected to continue to add to its advertising & analytics division. Neil Sweeney, founder and CEO of Freckle IoT, explained to AdAge that “AT&T currently have the data, but not the ability to execute on it. They do not have time to build and they should not. This is step one in a stack. There will be other pieces; this is just the first one.”

He added that AT&T was now on a “collision course” with Google and Facebook. “It is another garden to compete with Google and Facebook,” he said.

Sourced from AT&T, Wall Street Journal, AdAge; additional content by WARC staff