WPP has raised the stakes significantly in the media buying game with the launch of Xaxis, a huge new database that claims to allow advertisers to target consumers with what they want, in real time.
This is the Holy Grail of online advertising, meaning that advertisers can find customers who are inclined to buy immediately without needing to scatter their messages across countless media options.
Xaxis claims to have more than 500 million consumer profiles available in its launch markets of North America, Europe and Australia.
Crucially WPP sees this is as something that can be made to work in mainstream media like broadcast television as well as online.
Xaxis, to be headed by Brian Lesser, currently head of WPP’s Media Innovation Group, will be based on the company’s 24/7 Real Media company, bought for $649m in 2007. Since then WPP has acquired numerous smaller online ad business and also struck a succession of partnerships with other online specialists.
Xaxis (the name is intended to indicate that this is the first truly scientific form of targeted ad buying) will bring these various capabilities together for the first time, according to Lesser.
“The change isn’t so much how we are using the technology, but how we are centralizing the audience data,” he says. “When advertisers work with third parties, they can lose control over that data.”
WPP Digital boss Mark Read adds:”This is the next stage in advertising. We need to apply technologies to the process of buying media to help our clients target their ads.”
Other companies like Google and Publicis Groupe’s Vivaki online media exchange will no doubt say they can do the same thing (or will be able to soon).
But WPP has the big advantage of the biggest client base among all the big marcoms group and, by the sounds of it, has secured the agreement of many of these clients to place consumer data within Xaxis.
It also says Xaxis will comply will all current privacy undertakings.