AT&T may be plotting to revolutionise TV advertising

  • By hiring a big name ad executive in Brian Lesser, AT&T made it clear it has big plans in advertising.
  • The company could look to use its pending Time Warner acquisition to reinvent TV ads.
  • Alternatively, it could follow rival Verizon in challenging Facebook and Google in digital ads.

It’s a good bet that Brian Lesser, who oversaw billions in ad spending at the media buying giant GroupM, didn’t leave his previous agency CEO gig to take on a small role at AT&T. After all, he’s reporting directly to chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson.

Still, it’s not exactly clear what Lesser’s new gig —  announced last week — actually entails. AT&T said Lesser will be CEO of a yet-to-be-named division: an “advertising and analytics business using the company’s unique customer data and growing content assets.”

Here’s what we do know: The job involves data, and advertising, and probably TV. For starters, AT&T is on the verge of a massive $US85.4 billion deal to acquire TV giant Time Warner, which includes CNN, TNT, TBS and other cable networks, along with Bleacher Report and a slew of other assets.

The ad possibilities of an AT&T/Time Warner marriage are vast.

“They are playing across the full spectrum of content, data and distribution,” said Gian LaVecchia, vice president of client strategy at the mobile ad company Verve. “Those are the three foundations of the ad industry.”


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