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Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images

AT&T has announced it will acquire AppNexus, one of the largest privately-owned ad exchanges. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reports that the price tag is around $1.6 billion.

Why it matters: The acquisition will help AT&T build its automated digital advertising business that could compete with Google and Facebook’s massive duopoly.

What is AppNexus? AppNexus is a digital ad exchange — or a company that uses technology to optimize automated advertising bidding across digital properties, like websites and apps. Its main competitors are other ad tech companies that experienced high periods of growth between 2011 and 2013, like PubMatic and Criteo.

  • "The fit was so good with the assets that AT&T has and has acquired," says venture capitalist and AppNexus director Mike Tyrrell, who adds that deal likely would not have happened had AT&T been unable to complete its purchase of Time Warner.

The backstory: There were reports last year that AppNexus, like some of its ad tech rivals, would go public. Many have instead sought buyers in a harsh ad tech landscape. Other tech companies, like Salesforce and Oracle, have recently invested in ad tech companies valued at roughly $850 million.

The company will become a part of the growing ad stack being developed by AT&T advertising and analytics CEO Brian Lesser. Cheddar first reported that AT&T was eyeing the acquisition last week.

  • AT&T says it reaches 170 million unique direct-to-consumer connections across AT&T-specific wireless, video and broadband.
  • It has 15 million addressable television households, or houses that can be targeted with with digital ads.

The big picture: AT&T recently closed an $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner and developing a digital advertising business was a big part of its pursuit of the content company. AT&T hopes an automated ad business will bring it a new revenue stream that can help subsidize pay TV losses as more people cut the cord.

Go deeper: What AT&T's advertising platform will look like

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.