AT&T creates advertising and analytics unit

James Pearce
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US telco has recruited GroupM CEO Brian Lesser to head up new division, as it nears completion of $85bn Time Warner merger

AT&T is set to launch a new advertising and analytics unit, which will utilise its customer data and content assets, including those set to be acquired in its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

The US telco has named Brian Lesser, who currently heads up GroupM, as chief executive of the unit. GroupM is part of WPP and oversees more than $100 billion in marketers’ ad spend.

Prior to that, he was instrumental in the agency's embrace of 'programmatic' ads, helping build and run the GroupM specialty buying unit Xaxis. He will report directly to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in his new role.

Lesser’s appointment and the creation of the new divisions gives further insight into how AT&T will be structured should the Time Warner deal be given the thumbs up by regulators. Last week, the firm announced a management restructure.

“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,” said Stephenson.