GroupM acquires programmatic shop The Exchange Lab

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Chris Dobson.Chris Dobson takes over as the Exchange Lab's CEO.
Chris Dobson.Chris Dobson takes over as the Exchange Lab's CEO.

WPP's media unit extends its march into digital with purchase of $32M company

GroupM took another step into its digital future today with the acquistion of The Exchange Lab, a London-based programmatic media shop with five offices around the world.

Founded in 2007, the Exchange Lab is known for a unique approach to programmatic buying, in which it licenses programmatic software from other companies, then sets them against one another on the same campaign. Ideally, the best-perfoming solution will reveal itself in the process.

Last year, the company debuted a proprietary programmatic technology known as Proteus, which operates as an umbrella interface that allows users to turn all of the Exchange Lab's software on or off as neeed. GroupM will incoprorate the Proteus platform into its currrent programmatic offerings. 

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but Exchange Lab had revenues of $31.9 million last year, nearly a 100% increase over the previous year, according to Companies House, the U.K.'s corporate registry. The company will become part of GroupM's Connect, formerly known as GroupM Interaction.

"The Exchange Lab’s value proposition for an all-in-one solution across all digital media and devices and their commitment to building the absolute best technology to solve complexity for clients aligns precisely with the goals of Connect," said Rudiger Wanck, CEO, Connect, GroupM Global, in a release. 

For a company with offices in London, New York, Singapore, Chicago and Toronto, Exchange Lab is a relatively lean 130 people. The company currently has more than 700 clients, according to a GroupM release, including Volkswagen, Virgin Holidays, A&W and Glasses Direct. 

Exchange Lab chief executive James Aitken will depart the company to pursue "outside interests," and chairman Chris Dobson will take over in that role. Tim Webster, the chief strategy officer, will stay with the business.

This is Group M’s second recent acquisition of a leading London digital marketing business after buying Essence last month

In November, GroupM appointed Brian Lesser, formerly CEO of programmatic shop Xaxis, as North American CEO after Kelly Clark unexpectedly stepped down. At the time, Lesser was clear about his intentions to transform GroupM into a digital-first company. 

"The day is coming where all media will be digital, and all digital media will be bought and sold using data and technology," he said. 


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