WPP acquires Medialets to offer alternative to place mobile ads

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Independent British advertising and PR company WPP has taken over US ad measurement firm Medialets for an undisclosed sum, to provide mobile advertising buyers with a technology to create and measure mobile campaigns. The move challenges major sellers of online advertising such as Google, AOL, Twitter and Facebook to offer an alternative ad platform.

Eric Litman, Medialets Chief Executive, confirms:

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“A big reason they did this deal is to help maintain some independence. The ongoing currency of digital media right now is identity. What is a device? Who is a user? [WPP] wants to invest significantly in understanding that.”

Facebook advertising allows for ties to 1.4 billion active users and Litman adds that “if left unchecked, overall identity is going to be owned by the big media sellers”.

Medialets will continue to operate separately from WPP and plans to offer a continued service to its clients. Litman says that WPP wants to expand the technology capabilites of Medialets further:

“WPP’s commitment to bring in additional resources to help us grow means you can look forward to new features, new functionality and new platform integrations rolling out at an ever-increasing pace. In particular, we will be putting big focus on expanding our attribution capabilities, strengthening offers around creating safe environments for brand advertisers, and significantly growing our our ability to identify users and devices.”

Having reached digital revenues of $6.9 billion in 2014, WPP hopes the move to acquire Medialets will help the company achieve its target of 40-45% of digital revenue over the coming five years.

In addition, WPP announced the launch of a 200-person marketing foresight consultancy called The Gain Theory to help clients use data technology more efficiently through advanced analytics. Diageo and Unilever are among the group’s current clients using WPP’s insight services. They will be moved over to the new consultancy.

Manjiry Tamhane, European CEO and COO, WPP, explains:

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“If a client has a specific problem they are trying to solve, we organise ourselves across all the various companies and disciplines back to the client. That’s where Gain Theory fits in. It’s about our connections back into the various organisations to provide that holistic solution.”