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AT&T's advertising division Xandr is preparing to further integrate its advertising and data operations with WarnerMedia's advertising and data operations this year, Xandr CEO Brian Lesser said in an exclusive interview with Axios at CES in Las Vegas.

Why it matters: Lesser says that the integration is a necessary step in realizing the full value of AT&T's recent acquisitions of Time Warner and AppNexus, and that combining the brands is a top priority for 2020.

  • Reports have surfaced over the past few months about the two units working more closely together.
  • Lesser also told Axios that the company is open to further acquisitions. 

Be smart: AT&T is facing a lot of investor pressure to consolidate its operations to cut costs.

  • AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has pointed to Xandr as an example of ways the company is looking to create synergies from its acquisition.

Between the lines: AT&T created Xandr in 2018 as a way to consolidate all of AT&T's advertising infrastructure, including assets from its Time Warner and AppNexus acquisitions.

  • But some of the advertising and data sales and operations infrastructure from WarnerMedia (the renamed Time Warner assets) have remained separate from Xandr, which has caused confusion amongst ad buyers.

Why now? Lesser implied that AT&T needed to move slowly and carefully when integrating the businesses.

  • "When you acquire an asset as big as Time Warner or as significant as AppNexus, I think you want to preserve the value in that asset, even knowing that you're going to have to generate value and create efficiencies," he said.

Yes, but: Already, the two divisions have been working more closely together. In December, the companies announced that they would host a joint advertising "upfront" presentation to Madison Avenue in the spring. Representatives from the two divisions have been meeting with clients together for months.

What's next: Lesser says that this year, Xandr will integrate all of WarnerMedia's content data onto its own data platform to build an "identity graph," or a database that links all of the particular preferences and attributes of a single consumer.

  • "We did a great job of pulling together [last year] the telecom data [from AT&T], and in 2020 there's lots of data assets within WarnerMedia that we're going to gain access to," he said, referencing consumer data spanning properties from Bleacher Report to HBO Max.

The big picture: The move is part of a set of six strategic priorities for Xandr that Lesser has identified for 2020, which also includes growing internationally, scaling its addressable advertising marketplace called Community, enhancing its data capabilities and operations, and focusing on its corporate culture.

  • Asked whether dealmaking was part of Xandr's 2020 vision, Lesser said, "Absolutely. Yes. ... You know, we're very interested in speaking to companies that have unique assets that can help us build a premium advertising network."

Go deeper

2 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

35 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.