AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Xandr pair up to sell digital ads to political advertisers

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FILE PHOTO: The company logo for AT&T is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

August 26, 2020

By Sheila Dang

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc’s <T.N> media company WarnerMedia and advertising unit Xandr said Wednesday they will allow political advertisers to buy automated digital ads on its media properties for the first time, as the companies gear up for billions of dollars expected to be spent as the U.S. presidential election nears.

Political ad spending could reach a record $15 billion this year, according to estimates from ad agency GroupM, a bright spot for media companies as the coronavirus pandemic has hurt businesses and marketing budgets since March.

The ad sales partnership between WarnerMedia and Xandr will allow political campaigns and advocacy organizations to buy digital ads on networks like CNN and TNT using an automated tech system. WarnerMedia will still be able to manually approve the content of the political ads, which are highly regulated on traditional television, the companies said.

“We’ll be able to open up [to political advertisers], but making sure we do it with trust and transparency and with the standards of on-air political advertising,” said Jon Mansell, vice president of programmatic solutions and partnerships for WarnerMedia.

Political ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and TikTok have become a hotly-contested issue, as each have taken different approaches to labeling or even allowing political ads.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; editing by Grant McCool)