Xaxis moves to centre stage at WPP’s Group M as Lesser takes top North America role

We wondered if Kelly Clark’s departure as CEO of WPP’s GroupM in North America might signal closer ties between WPP’s media holding company and newly-minted programmatic gold mine Xaxis and – it does.

brian-lesserXaxis CEO Brian Lesser (left) is replacing Clark as CEO of GroupM North America with GroupM digital supremo (or supremo of the other digital bits) Rob Norman becoming chairman.

GroupM president Dominic Proctor is quoted as saying: “You won’t see a sudden and dramatic change. We’re not overnight switching dollars from one format to another. I think this simply reflects the direction we’ve been traveling and it’s speeding up.” And, of Lesser: (he) “represents the opportunity to really build and execute the platforms on which the rest of the enterprise is built, he has the technology and management chops to do that.”

Management chops? Has Dominic gone native?

Anyway, Xaxis, new acquisition Essence Digital (a big digital media buyer) and WPP’s investments in companies including ComScore, Rentrak and AppNexus seem to be the future for WPP’s media operation. One advantage they have is that they don’t, necessarily, need the direct involvement of pesky, fee-crunching clients.

(This is an updated version of an earlier story.)

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.