Media Planning and Buying Media

Microsoft takes Xandr off AT&T's hands for undisclosed fee


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

December 21, 2021 | 2 min read

AT&T has agreed to sell programmatic ad firm Xandr to Microsoft. The sale's been a long time coming and builds upon 10 years of partnership between Xandr and Microsoft.


Microsoft acquires Xandr

The business says that the deal strengthens both advertising propositions in a post-cookie world. Xandr was formed in 2018 when AT&T bought AppNexus (founded 2007).

The announcement cites the combination of Microsoft's audience intelligence, technology and global advertising customer-base with Xandr's scaled, data-driven platform. Will the tech giant prove a better home than the telecom giant?

Xandr's executive vice president and general manager Mike Welch said: "Microsoft's shared vision of empowering a free and open web and championing an open industry alternative via a global advertising marketplace makes it a great fit for Xandr."

The transaction, an undisclosed fee, is subject to regulatory review.

Reacting to the acquisition, Alistair Goodman, chief executive and general manager of Ericsson’s Emodo says it shows how Microsoft will build the moat around its walled garden, something the tech giants have been accused of in their various consumer 'privacy' agendas.

"Microsoft has a clear history of investing in adtech dating all the way back to 1998 when it purchased the late Tony Hsiesh’s Linkexchange and even more recently Linkedin buying the cross-device ad tech company Drawbridge in 2019.

“The market is shifting towards full-stack, horizontally-integrated providers. A unified platform ensures smarter campaign optimization, and greater transparency and efficiency via a direct path between supply and demand.”

Shiv Gupta, managing partner at U of Digital says Microsoft will be able to distribute it deterministic ID via the "massive exchange". “It knows first-party data will be crucial to successful ad tech plays in the future and they have a ton of it.”

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