Xaxis has announced the full integration of 24/7 Media to create “the world’s largest” programmatic outfit, with Caspar Schlickum being elevated to the newly-created role of EMEA CEO, crowning a series of high-level moves within the WPP trading desk.
This also mirrors recent developments within the Publicis fold, ExchangeWire reviews the changes at two of the industry’s biggest trading desks, and assesses the potential impact upon the European market.
Xaxis leadership line-up post integration
Some of the top lines from the press release (issued 21 January, 2014) are that the combined entity – which now controls more than $750 million of audience-targeted media buys across 32 markets – will retain the Xaxis moniker, with Brian Lesser to serve as global CEO, and David J. Moore (the ex-24/7 Media chief) as company chairman.
Meanwhile, Mark Grether will remain as Xaxis global chief operating officer and Christina Van Tassell will become chief financial officer. Nicolle Pangis will become the company’s chief revenue officer and Paul Dolan will continue in his role as senior vice president, global business development.
Schlickum claims new EMEA chief role
However, just as interestingly for European market watchers, the completion of the integration (which was initially announced in December 2013), is the news that Schlickum (who formerly held the role of EMEA MD) will now take up the role of chief exec for the region.
Speaking earlier with ExchangeWire, Schlickum explained how the merger let the new entity combine the existing buy-side expertise and audience-targeted media products of Xaxis with 24/7 Media’s advertising technology and publisher focus.
The move does suggest that GroupM is now trying to move Xaxis beyond its original internal ad network model and develop the unit as the tech and data layer for its four big media buying agencies.
Xaxis now has access to the 200-strong development team inherited from 24/7 Media and begs a few questions.
Will Xaxis look to leverage this resource and build on top of the open stack solution it has rolled out for its partner agencies?
Will we see bespoke solutions being built internally for individual clients?
Such moves would position Xaxis away from the typical trading desk solution (that is heavily reliant on off-the-shelf ad tech) to a more differentiated development and consultative proposition. It is almost similar to a CCI or DAC model that is favoured by the large Japanese agencies. More will be revealed when the Xaxis Brand Suite is unveiled in the UK later this month.
As part of the integration Real Media Group’s inventory of over 1,000 publisher sites has been rebranded as the Xaxis Publisher Network. Meanwhile, Open AdStream – 24/7 Media’s flagship publisher technology serving 450 publishers across 12 markets – is now Xaxis for Publishers and will now form part of Xaxis’ stable of media product offerings.
Switches within GroupM
The announcement of the merger (and Schlickum’s new role) follows Xaxis’ appointment of Damien Hodge as director of client and agency development of its UK arm.
Hodge joins from fellow WPP (and GroupM) entity MediaCom and will report to Nicolas Bidon, MD of Xaxis UK, where the pair will: “Leverage our unique data and technology assets,” according to Bidon.
Hodge vacates the role of MediaCom’s joint-head of marketplace, and earlier held the position of head of digital for MediaCom Investment; he was formerly head of digital trading at MediaCom.
Publicis’ Vivaki also changes formation
Meanwhile within the rival Publicis fold, Vivaki has appointed Geoff Smith to the newly created role of UK MD for its Audience on Demand (AOD) outfit, to help it roll out its suite of online advertising technology, and gain further share of clients’ marketing budgets.
Smith was formerly head of activation for AOD in the UK and will now form part of the VivaKi EMEA leadership team. He will be also responsible for developing and managing the UK arm of the trade desk, while helping drive strategy across the wider global network.
Speaking with ExchangeWire, Marco Bertozzi, Vivaki’s executive MD and EVP for EMEA, said Smith will head-up an initiative to educate media agency staff about the benefits using its suite of tools can bring.
Bertozzi adds: “We’re building out a dedicated team that will spend time with [media] agencies educating them about how we can provide value [on a media plan].”
This in turn, will free up Bertozzi to bolster Vivaki’s footprint (and billings) across the EMEA region – showing how both agency networks are setting out their stalls in 2014.