Μicrosoft acquired programmatic advertising marketplace Xandr from AT&T, as Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft President for web experiences announced in a blogpost, while at the same time a strategic cooperation with Taboola to create an audience network was announced.
With Xandr, Microsoft is hoping they will be able to accelerate the delivery of digital advertising solutions for the open web by combining Microsoft’s audience understanding, technology and global advertising customer base with Xandr’s large-scale, data-driven platforms for advertising.
There is also a clear indication that Microsoft is hoping to develop into a bigger challenger for Google in the programmatic advertising space, as the announcement includes a direct reference to privacy practices and publishers’ monetization opportunities beyond the third-party cookies.
“As the digital landscape evolves in a post-cookie world, Microsoft and Xandr together will help shape the digital ad marketplace of the future. One that respects consumer privacy preferences, understands publishers’ relationships with consumers and helps advertisers meet their goals […] With Xandr, Microsoft can accelerate the delivery of digital advertising solutions for the open web by combining Microsoft’s audience understanding, technology and global advertising customer base with Xandr’s large-scale, data-driven platforms for advertising”.
In 2015, Microsoft had made the decision to cut down its own ad sales teams and outsource the monetization to Xandr, at the time AppNexus. Now, it is obvious that Microsoft has an appetite to enter the digital advertising space -that is accounted for 64.4% of all advertising in 2021- where Google, Amazon and Meta have a 80% to 90% share.
AppNexus was founded by former Right Media staff, CTO Brian O’Kelley, and Mike Nolet, product manager and director of analytics, with Michael Rubenstein, a former vice president and general manager at Google DoubleClick, who joined AppNexus as president in September 2009. Among others, the company was financially backed by Microsoft, and was sold to AT&T,which put it under its Xandr division as a subsidiary, for a speculated amount of USD 1,6 b to 2 b.
To further help publishers, advertisers, and consumers thrive in a post-cookie world, we announced an agreement to acquire the global programmatic advertising marketplace @xandr from @ATT. 👉 https://t.co/7D1kQH2zDh
— Microsoft Advertising (@MSFTAdvertising) December 21, 2021
And if this move was not clear enough for Microsoft’s intentions, more or less simultaneously Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola, one of the two biggest content recommendation companies, shared on Linkedin that they are joining forces with Microsoft to design a real-time service that allows advertisers to bid for ad inventory across many places on the open web — content that’s accessible via any web browser, easily linked to and doesn’t require logging into an account.
“What a way to finish 2021. Today we’re launching a native bidding service, helping our advertisers reach consumers on other platforms – Social, Display, Search and others. And, we couldn’t have asked for a better partner in supporting us in designing it – Microsoft. As part of this initiative we also signed an agreement with Microsoft through July 2024”, Singolda wrote.