GroupM, the media investment arm of WPP, has announced the purchase of London-headquartered programmatic ad specialist The Exchange Lab.   

The purchaser is looking to the deal as a way of adding a crucial layer to its multi-platform capabilities, which in turn helps the arsenal of WPP agencies like Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, Mindshare and Xaxis. 

Through Proteus – its proprietary solution for acquiring and re-engaging customers – The Exchange Lab’s is able to offer a complete view of programmatic activity across display, mobile, video and social media to its users. 

Such is GroupM’s power, it claims to be “responsible” for one in every three ads globally. 

Boardroom switch

Big change comes as a result of the purchase, with The Exchange Lab co-founder James Aitken stepping down from his role as CEO to pursue “outside investment interests”. 

The man he helped build The Exchange Lab with, Tim Webster, is to continue as Chief Strategy Officer, while Chris Dobson makes the jump from Executive Chairman to CEO.

As far as the company’s remaining 130 employees go, they will continue to operate globally as The Exchange Lab across offices in London, New York, Chicago, Singapore and Toronto, but also as an “agnostic business layer” within Connect.

Previously named GroupM Interaction, Connect is GroupM’s way of putting its real-time digital media services “under a single umbrella”.     

While The Exchange Lab’s $32 million in annual revenue for 2014 may pale in significance to the $6.9 billion earned by WPP in the same period, the purchase could become significant as the latter attempts to ramp up its takings in the digital space.