Telefónica launches mobile ad exchange

Spanish operator group Telefónica has launched what it says is the world’s first telco-powered real-time mobile advertising exchange platform. The firm has teamed up with GSO Capital Partners, a division of US investment firm Blackstone, to create Axonix; a firm that intends to act as a marketplace for mobile publishers and advertisers to target mobile advertisements at consumers.

The firms said that Axonix will give website owners the highest prices for their mobile advertising space by offering a self-service mobile advertisement exchange platform. The platform will be accessible by both publishers and advertisers to buy and sell mobile advertising space globally. The website publisher will also be able to define controls and selling rules to eligible advertisers.

Telefónica added that it will use its own anonymised and aggregated subscriber data to target adverts to audiences in a way that delivers improved relevancy and scale compared with rival advertising exchanges. The platform will initially be launched with a specific focus on the US, European and Latin American markets.

Telefónica cited research putting the global 2013 mobile advertising spend at $13.4bn, equivalent to 13 per cent of all global internet advertising spend and 2.7 per cent of all global advertising spend, according to consultancy firm ZenithOptimedia. The figure is set to rise to $45bn by 2016; representing 28 per cent of internet advertising spend and 7.6 per cent of total advertising spend.

The newly-created firm will be based in London and will be led by Simon Birkenhead, who will depart his role as Telefónica’s director of global advertising sales. The platform will use technology from MobClix, a software developer kit that allows publishers to connect with advertising networks. The technology was acquired by GSO Partners in January this year. Axonix will exist as an independent entity from Telefónica and GSO Capital Partners.

Stephen Shurrock, CEO of digital service and innovation at Telefónica, said that becoming the first operator to launch such an advertising exchange demonstrates its commitment to diversify its offerings into digital services. He added that the integration of MobiClix technology combined with Telefonica’s own unique data has fuelled expectations within the firm that it can become one of the leading platforms in the global mobile advertising industry.

“Our immediate priority now is to scale the business quickly by attracting the best talent in the industry, right from the heart of London, and partner with leading brands, agencies, networks and publishers to make highly targeted, relevant and impactful mobile advertising a reality across the globe,”  he said.

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