The newly combined AT&T-Time Warner is looking to reinvent advertising — but to do so, it needs to buy more technology, AT&T Advertising and Analytics CEO Brian Lesser told CNBC on Wednesday.
Lesser, who spoke on "Squawk Box" from the Cannes Lions advertising and marketing festival in France, dodged questions about a Wall Street Journal report that AT&T is in talks to buy ad tech firm AppNexus in what could be a $1.6 billion deal.
AppNexus is backed by WPP, where Lesser used to work as CEO of the ad giant's GroupM media unit. Lesser is also a former AppNexus board member.
"There's lots of rumors that come up at Cannes," said Lesser, though he did say "we need more tech" in order to build AT&T's $2 billion ad business "into something more significant."
Lesser echoed what AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told CNBC on Friday, a day after closing the $85.4 billion Time Warner acquisition. Stephenson said the company expects in coming weeks to make smaller acquisitions to enable its ad platform goals.