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Telefonica, Blackstone to launch mobile advertising exchange


Simon B
Richard Handford

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Telefonica and private equity firm Blackstone have jumped into the mobile advertising market with a new firm called Axonix.

The firm is to launch a mobile-only exchange that links publishers and potential advertisers, the first for an operator, said Telefonica.

Axonix will focus its service on the US, Europe and Latin America, a strategy which (the US aside) fits with Telefonica’s footprint.

The operator is working with GSO Capital Partners, Blackstone’s credit business, which acquired mobile advertising firm MobClix out of bankruptcy at the start of 2014, said Techcrunch. MobClix’s technology forms the basis of the new exchange, due to launch in May.

Axonix is headed by Simon Birkenhead (pictured), currently Telefonica’s director of global advertising sales and a former Google executive. It will be based in London and run independently from its parents.

Despite Telefonica’s claim of breaking new ground, other operators are already working in similar if not identical territory, including Telefonica itself.

For instance, UK m-commerce venture Weve, which numbers mobile advertising (both display and via messaging) among its services, is already active. Weve’s backers include Telefonica O2.

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