Xaxis woos Bidswitch's Bob Walczak to lead Light Reaction as global CEO

Xaxis-owned mobile specialist unit Light Reaction has unveiled ad tech industry veteran Bob Walczak, as its new chief executive after the exit of its earlier global chief Paul Dolan, the latest in a series of high-profile moves within the GroupM ad tech arm.

Walczak, formerly the US head of IPONWEB-owned Bidswitch, took up the reins last week, and will oversee the company’s global operations which take in 26 markets across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East from its New York base.

Walczak is charged with furthering Light Reaction’s roll out, including the appointment of a UK-based head of its European business as well as bolstering its product offering, geographic footprint, as well as adding to its client roster. At present Light Reaction’s existing general manager Paul Dolan will remain in a strategic advisory role as Walczak beds in to the role.

Speaking with The Drum, Walczak said his strategic priorities would also include better assessing how Light Reaction fits into the wider Xaxis fold, as well as the wider GroupM holding company. This includes building relationships both directly with brands and agencies outside of the wider WPP network.

Most recently Walczak was the general manager for IPONWEB’s BidSwitch where he he served for just over 12 months, and he was a vice president at supply-side platform PubMatic.

In a statement discussing the move, Xaxis’ global CEO Brian Gleason (himself only occupying this position since the last quarter of 2015) said Walczak’s appointment was part of its ambition to offer clients cross-screen performance advertising solutions.

Speaking about where he thought mobile sat within clients’ media mix modelling, Walczak said: “My view is that mobile is never going to be the ‘number one screen’ [despite its increasing dominance when it comes to total media consumption time]. You have to engage with consumers in different ways on different devices.”

Light Reaction works with clients to help improve the performance of their media campaigns, especially on mobile devices, this can include the number of downloads or re-engagement of their mobile apps.

Since its inception in June last year, this has included Light Reaction working with both mobile operators and handset manufacturers including Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the US, as well as Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom in Europe, to have select clients’ apps preloaded on to the devices they distribute.

Xaxis’ Light Reaction then uses programmatic media buying technology to engage with audiences these devices have been distributed to and then charges clients on a CPA basis.

Speaking earlier with The Drum, outgoing Light Reaction chief Paul Dolan said: "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."

Speaking separately at Mobile World Congress last week WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell spoke about how the emergence of mobile technologies was impacting the operating model of the agency network, and explained the reasons behind the “under-investment in mobile”.

Namely, he said that improvement on how well Facebook and Google (the leading mobile media owners) allow for the independent measurement on their platforms was crucial for his network to continue spending with them in such high amounts.

Click here to read some of the other areas raised by key players at this year’s Mobile World Congress

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