AT&T (T -0.9%) is exploring the potential sale of its Xandr digital ad unit, the WSJ reports – in what would be a reversal of a few years’ buildup in the space, and a trimming of its ambitions to become an advertising force.
A move isn’t certain, but any sale of Xandr isn’t likely to draw more than what AT&T paid for the biggest piece of its puzzle, AppNexus, in 2018: $1.6B.
A withdrawal from digital ads could be of a piece with AT&T shedding its DirecTV unit, which would send a clear signal of focus on the balance sheet, and a company with fewer assets moving forward.
AT&T had hoped to appeal to marketers by combining one of the largest online ad exchanges with ad space on its WarnerMedia channels and insights into its wireless subscribers. But the unit’s growth has failed to take off as hoped and ran into technology problems typical in the fast-developing ad-tech world.