Xaxis' Light Reaction hunts EMEA head, aims to be the 'growth area' for GroupM in 2016

Xaxis' mobile specialist unit Light Reaction is furthering its international expansion beginning with the hunt for a new head of EMEA as it seeks to further its UK presence, and bolster parent company GroupM's digital revenues.

Light Reaction is currently advertising an EMEA general manager role, with the job advert referencing a preference for bilingual candidates, reflecting the outfit's desire to maintain its market leading position in the continent's key markets, such as France, Germany and Spain.

The outfit, which was established as a 'mobile-first' performance marketing unit within the GroupM ad tech hub, currently has a presence in 17 markets within the European Union, and aims to be "the growth area for Xaxis in 2016," according to Paul Dolan, Light Reaction's global general manager.

Speaking with The Drum, New York-based Dolan said Germany, Poland and Spain are currently the company's biggest markets in Europe but given its status as the world's leading digital market - as a percentage of overall media spend - bolstering its UK business was clearly a priority.

Currently, the outfit has a global headcount of approximately 120 (this is roughly 10 per cent of Xaxis' total numbers), with offices in North America, plus several office across APAC, after its launch in June this year.

Included in its 2016 expansion strategy are a series of planned product launches, which will see Light Reaction's offering evolve from a mobile-only to cross-screen, according to Dolan.

"2016 will be when we bring cross-device to our product offering, with a consistent price-point across everything," he said. "A deep area of focus for us will be cross-device attribution."

Dolan also explained to The Drum that Xaxis decided to launch Light Reaction as a bespoke performance marketing unit under a separate brand after it spotted a gap in the market for programmatic performance marketing briefs - whereas Xaxis itself was being used a branding tool by clients.

"GroupM saw this as an opportunity to launch on a [cost per acquisition] CPA basis [as opposed to the CPM briefs Xaxis was picking up], and we wanted to address it as a mobile-first play," said Dolan.

Typically, Light Reaction is briefed by clients to drive mobile app installs, or to re-engage with mobile users that have downloaded an app but have then ceased to use it, as well as 'click-to-call' briefs.

However, in addition to its planned cross-device ambitions, Light Reaction is also beginning to research the emotional affect ads delivered using programmatic media buying technologies on consumers - another key area of focus for the unit in 2016.

This involves working with cognitive research units to measure how impactful certain creatives are, especially when used in conjunction with programmatic technologies, a pairing Dolan described as "Perceptual Science".

"We [Xaxis] understand how to track billions of events, such as clicks and impressions, but with our neuro-marketing friends we can also offer clients information on the emotional response," he added. "Part of Xaxis' mission is to make advertising welcome."

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