×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AT&T Opens New Advertising Unit in Advance of Time Warner Merger

AT&T said Friday it would launch an advertising and analytics unit led by a senior Madison Avenue media-buying executive – the latest hint of the plans the telecommunications giant has for its pending $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc.

AT&T said it hired Brian Lesser, the chief executive of the North American operations of WPP’s large GroupM consortium of media-buying agencies, to serve as chief executive of the new unit. Lesser will report directly to AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, and is charged with building and leading “an advertising and analytics business using the company’s unique customer data and growing content assets.”

It remained unclear whether various ad-sales executives at Time Warner’s operations, which include the large suite of ad-supported Turner cable networks, would eventually report to Lesser. An AT&T spokesman declined to offer more specific details about the hire or the new advertising unit. AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner Inc. is currently under review by the United States Department of Justice as well as authorities in certain foreign countries.

“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,” AT&T’s Stephenson said in a prepared statement.

AT&T would be emulating actions taken by other large media companies. Both Time Warner’s Turner and Comcast’s NBCUniversal have over the last several years offered various products aimed at letting advertisers use data to place their commercial pitches with more precision. Many TV outlets are rolling out so-called “programmatic” advertising products that allow for the purchase of advertising inventory by using software and algorithms to determine what type of ad time reach the most likely consumers for a particular marketing effort.

“Advertising is evolving from broad messages delivered through traditional media channels, to customized, individual content coordinated across all connected devices,” Lesser said in a statement. “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.”

GroupM said its executives would immediately start a search for a replacement for Lesser. Kelly Clark, global CEO of GroupM, will take over his duties in the interim.

 

 

 

More TV

  • Yellowstone

    Viacom Lays Off Paramount Network Staffers Amid Reorganization (EXCLUSIVE)

    Viacom has laid off a number of staffers in its entertainment group, with the majority of the affected employees hailing from Paramount Network, Variety has learned exclusively. A Viacom spokesperson declined to comment. But a source with knowledge of the situation that the number of affected employees was fewer than 20, or less than 2% of [...]

  • The Last OG

    TV News Roundup: 'Last O.G.' Sets Season 2 Premiere Date on TBS

    In today’s TV News Roundup, “The Last O.G.” announces its Season 2 return date and Variety has the exclusive first look at Fox’s new legal drama “Proven Innocent.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has announced its new limited series “Black Earth Rising” will launch on Jan. 25. The contemporary thriller series stars Michaela Coel as Kate Ashby, a Rwandan girl [...]

  • Matt Walsh

    'Veep' Star Matt Walsh to Lead ABC Comedy Pilot 'Happy Accident'

    Matt Walsh has been tapped for a lead role in the upcoming ABC single-camera comedy pilot “Happy Accident.” In the series, two Pittsburgh families – a father (Walsh) with three adult daughters, and a hotel lounge singer with her med student son – are forced together after a decades-old secret is revealed. Walsh currently stars in [...]

  • Jane Fonda

    'Grace and Frankie' Renewed for Season 6 at Netflix

    Netflix has renewed “Grace and Frankie” for a sixth season ahead of the Season 5 premiere this Friday. The series stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular characters who found their lives turned upside down when their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, respectively) revealed they were gay and left the [...]

  • CBS' Armando Nunez to Receive Variety

    CBS' Armando Nunez to Receive Variety International Achievement in TV Award

    CBS Corp. veteran Armando Nuñez will be honored in April with Variety‘s International Achievement in TV Award at the MipTV conference in Cannes. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership and innovation in the international television marketplace. Nuñez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group and CBS’ Chief Content Licensing Officer, has spent more than [...]

  • CBS News

    NAACP Slams CBS News' 2020 Team's Lack of Black Representation (EXCLUSIVE)

    The NAACP has slammed CBS News for not including any African-American journalists on its 2020 election coverage team. CBS News came under fire over the weekend after an associate producer tweeted out an image of the news outlet’s 2020 team. In a statement obtained exclusively by Variety, a spokesperson for the NAACP said CBS News’ lineup “proves the voting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content