Telefónica and Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners to create the first telco-powered mobile ad exchange platform
London, 16th of April 2014 - Today Telefónica reinforces its leading position in the global mobile advertising market, announcing the creation of Axonix – a new company with the financial backing of Telefónica and affiliates of Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners (GSO). This is the first mobile advertising exchange platform owned and powered by a mobile operator.
Axonix will be powered by technology acquired by Telefónica and Blackstone's GSO Capital that underpinned the programmatic advertising platform, MobClix. This technology has a four year history of leading the market and, through the creation of Axonix, propels Telefónica into the fast-growing real-time advertising space (RTB) alongside only a small selection of other major technology companies.
Simon Birkenhead has been appointed Chief Executive of Axonix, leaving his current role as Telefónica's Director of Global Advertising Sales. The newly formed company will have a completely new executive management team and will operate globally with its headquarters in London. Whilst being independently run, it will benefit from the financial credibility, advertising industry expertise and global reach of its two shareholders, Telefónica and Blackstone's GSO.
Stephen Shurrock, CEO of Digital Service & Innovation at Telefónica said: "Axonix is created specifically for the mobile advertising industry, using technology with a four year heritage in leading this market to offer a central destination for operator-enriched advertising inventory. We're proud to be the first telecoms company in the world to own and power a mobile ad exchange platform, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to putting digital services front and centre as we transform into a digital telco.
"Through the acquisition of the MobClix technology, in partnership with Blackstone's GSO, as well as our unique data sets as a mobile operator, we expect to become one of the leading global technology platforms in the mobile programmatic advertising industry.
"Our immediate priority now is to scale the business quickly by attracting the best talent in the industry, right from the heart of London, and partner with leading brands, agencies, networks and publishers to make highly targeted, relevant and impactful mobile advertising a reality across the globe."
Axonix is a fully transparent, programmatic marketplace that enables mobile publishers to achieve the highest possible prices for their inventory whilst adhering to any controls and selling rules they define. Axonix will initially offer a self-service, mobile ad exchange platform to advertisers and publishers globally but with a specific focus on US and Europe, plus Latin America where Telefónica has enormous local scale. Over 100 demand partners are already integrated into the Axonix platform.
Recent figures from ZenithOptimedia show that in 2013, $13.4 billion was spent on mobile ads equating to some 13% of all Internet ad spend and 2.7% of all global ad spend. By 2016 it's estimated that this figure will rise to $45 billion, or 28% of Internet ad spend and 7.6% of total ad investments. Separate research from eMarketer predicts that real-time bidding will account for 54% of all total US display ad spend in 2017, with mobile-based RTB sales, in particular, accounting for approximately 20% of this spend.
The new real-time trading capabilities will complement Telefónica's existing mobile display, messaging, sponsored services and other advertising business units, further enhancing Telefónica's already strong advertising proposition that offers brands scaled audiences, innovative data-driven targeting options and impactful ad formats.
The use of Telefónica's unique audience data, anonymized and aggregated, through a programmatic trading platform will enable Axonix to deliver improved ad relevancy and performance, providing unrivalled value and results for its advertiser and publisher customers.
"At GSO, we recognize the need for an innovative entrant into the mobile advertising exchange market to address the increasingly global and data driven requirements for advertisers and publishers. We are looking forward to partnering with Telefonica on this exciting opportunity." said Scott Eisenberg, Managing Director from GSO who will join the board of Axonix.
Notes to editors
What is an ad exchange?
An ad exchange is a digital marketplace that enables advertisers and publishers to buy and sell advertising space, often through real-time auctions. Axonix will specifically sell mobile ad inventory only, not desktop.
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A useful diagram here
Telefónica is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world by stock market capitalisation and number of customers. From that leading position in the industry, and with its mobile and landline telephony and broadband businesses as the key factors in its growth, Telefónica has focused on its strategy of becoming a leading company in the digital world. The company has a significant presence in 24 countries and a customer base of over 323 million accesses around the world. Telefónica has a strong presence in Spain, Europe and Latin America, where the company essentially concentrates its growth strategy.
About Blackstone and GSO Capital Partners
Blackstone is one of the world's leading investment and advisory firms with approximately $265 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2013.It seeks to create positive economic impact and long-term value for investors, the companies it invests in, the companies it advises and the broader global economy. Blackstone does this through the commitment of extraordinary people and flexible capital. Blackstone's alternative asset management businesses include the management of private equity funds, real estate funds, hedge fund solutions, credit-focused funds and closed-end funds. GSO, a division of Blackstone, is a leading credit-focused alternative asset manager, with approximately $65 billion of assets under management as of December 31, 2013. GSO has a global footprint with approximately 250 professionals, including a dedicated team of energy and power professionals with significant experience investing in energy and power sectors, among its offices in New York, Dublin, London and Houston. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow on Twitter @Blackstone.
Axonix is a brand new mobile advertising company, headquartered in London but with global reach. It is powered by technology that previously underpinned the programmatic mobile ad exchange platform, Mobclix , which has a four year history of leading the market. With the financial backing of Telefonica and private equity group, Blackstone, Axonix is the first mobile ad exchange platform owned and supported by a telco and is set to be the most exciting new global business in the mobile advertising industry.
Axonix provides a fully transparent, programmatic marketplace that enables mobile publishers to achieve the highest possible prices for their inventory whilst adhering to any controls and selling rules they define. Axonix's advanced, data-driven, programmatic trading platform enables brands, agencies, networks and trading desks to engage with their target audiences on mobile devices in real-time, securing the optimal ad inventory that will deliver the best ROI.