Google and Facebook have profited mightily by being the first companies to achieve direct marketing at scale but life may be about to become more difficult.
Despite the various scandals afflicting Facebook in particular and pressure from regulators both companies are still increasing earnings and getting even bigger. But Amazon is challenging Google’s search business and now the mighty AT&T is trying to muscle in on digital ad serving (another Google speciality) with the launch of Xandr – a nod to Alexander Graham Bell whose company eventually became AT&T – headed by former WPP Xaxis boss Brian Lesser.
Essentially Xandr wants to serve up “addressable TV advertising, ads tailor-made for whoever’s watching. This has been the supposed holy grail for TV advertising for years now but AT&T has the resource to make it work. Whether or not people want it is another matter. The spectre of privacy concerns is immediately apparent.
The biggest fly in AT&T’s ointment is the current Justice Department appeal in the US against its successful $85bn bid for Tim Warner. Time Warner’s vast array of media channels and AT&T’s tech would be a worthy rival to the tech giants.
Nine state attorneys backed the takeover yesterday which suggests it will stand, although with Donald Trump agin it you never know.