Surprise retreat as WPP’s Xaxis rolls XFP digital ad platform into independent operator AppNexus

WPP’s Xaxis data cum media buying platform has come under fire recently for, among other things, a lack of transparency and the marcoms giant has moved swiftly and dramatically to remedy things.

appnexusWPP is investing $25m and injecting its ‘Xaxis For Publishers’ (XFP) business into independent ad tech company AppNexus in return for an undisclosed stake. XFP is claimed to be the industry’s second-largest publisher ad server platform, so its business is a big boost for AppNexus. The move will leave Xaxis as a standalone data business.

AppNexus, which competes with other agency-owned ad server platforms, has revenues of over $100m and is valued at a vertiginous $2.1bn in the US. It employs nearly 600 people in ten offices around the world and claims spending on the platform will reach $2bn in 2014. XFP’s staff will join AppNexus.

This is a considerable strategic retreat for WPP which tried to build Xaxis (whose technology it acquired when it bought 24/7 Real Media) into the biggest online ad marketplace. But WPP, in some cases anyway, was acting as both agency and media owner, inviting accusations of media broking – still a hot topic in the media world.

Whatever Xaxis was or wasn’t up to, it’s now decided on a different route, gambling that independent AppNexus will emerge as the platform of choice for the world’s biggest digital advertisers.

It will be interesting to see how other agency-owned platforms, most notably Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi, respond.


  1. Brian Lesser lied directly to the fact of every employee who worked with that product. Everyone was told that it would be an integral part of the business and that nobody would lose their jobs, and he lied on both accounts.

    Brian Lesser is scum in a suit.

  2. Also, clarification on my last comment, there was a huge round of firings when Xaxis took over 24/7.

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